An extremely rare megamouth shark was recently captured off the coast of southern Japan, representing only the 58th time a member of this species has been seen by humans.
The female shark, weighting 1,500 pounds, was surrounded by crowds at the Marine Science Museum in Shizuoka City as it was dissected by scientists on Thursday, FoxNews.com reports. It’s not clear when the shark was first captured.
“The megamouth is one of the most rarely seen species of sharks,” David Shiffman, a marine biologist studying sharks at the University of Miami, said in an email.
The sharks were first discovered in 1976 when “when one was accidentally caught in the anchor line of a U.S. navy vessel,” said Shiffman.
Since then, other megamouths have been spotted all over the globe. The species is known to live in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Megamouths, which can grow up to lengths of 17 feet, are one of only three species of sharks that feed on plankton, according to the Western Australian Museum. The creatures filter the tiny plants from the water through their gills as they swim through the ocean with an open mouth. Their scientific name “Megachasma pelagios” means “giant mouth of the deep.”
“Their mouth is bioluminescent,” said Shiffman.”Some scientists believe this is used to attract their food.”
Check out a video of scientists performing an autopsy on the animal below:
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