Saturday 25 October 2014

Rare goblin shark caught in US

Species so rare that one has not been seen for 10 years

Published 03/05/2014 | 17:47

Shrimp fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico have caught a goblin shark – a species so rare that one has not been seen for 10 years.

The 18ft-long pink predator was caught in a shrimp net off Key West, Florida.

The crew were shocked to find the prehistoric-looking shark thrashing around with the rest of the haul.

It has a long snout hiding racks of sharp teeth and is often called a “living fossil”.

Thought to swim in the deep water of Japan and the Gulf, it is only the second known sighting in the area.

“I didn’t even know what it was,” said Carl Moore, a fisherman. “I didn’t get the tape measure out because that thing’s got some wicked teeth. They could do some damage.

“My three-year-old grandson just loves sharks, so I’ve been taking pictures of every one we find. When I showed him this one he said, 'Wow, Pappa!’”

Much to the disappointment of scientists, Mr Moore decided to snap a quick photo of the shark with his mobile then release it back into the water.

Scientists know so little about the shark that they cannot even determine how old or how big it gets.

Researchers, using his photographs, have guessed that the shark was a female and at least 18 feet long.

However, previous estimates had been much smaller than the size of the one caught by Mr Moore. It is thought that deep underwater the colour red appears black making the shark appear almost invisible to predators and prey.

Its snout contains electrical sensors so it can find prey even when it cannot see or hear.

They eat fish, including other sharks and rays, as well as crabs, shrimps and other small organisms.

Mr Moore caught the creature on April 19 but only reported the catch to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Friday.

David Schiffman, a marine biologist at the University of Miami, did not believe that a goblin shark would ever be found in the Gulf.

“At first I wasn’t sure if it was even possible for this to happen,” he said.

“But then, when the photos came through, it is undeniably a goblin shark.”

Independent News Service

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