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megamouth shark

The megamouth shark washed up in a coastal village in the Philippines. Photo: Nonus Enolvus/Facebook


The Inertia

According to reports, a rare megamouth shark washed up on a beach in the Philippines province of Sorsogon, in a tiny municipality called Gubat. Megamouth shark are barely ever seen by humans because they live mostly in the deep sea. An official from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources told outlets that it is believed the shark died after it was tangled in a fishing net.

Megamouth are interesting creatures. We didn’t even know they existed until 1976, when the first one was discovered. They generally spend their time in water as deep as 15,000 feet, but they do occasionally rise to near-surface depths. As the name implies, they have a very large mouth. They use it to filter out planktonic prey, which makes up the majority of their diet. They swim around with that gaping mouth wide open, sucking food as they go. The inside of their mouths also have light producing organs that attract prey.

“The first known megamouth shark was accidentally captured when it became entangled in a sea anchor attached to deep naval equipment near Hawaii,”wrote Oceana.org. “Since that time, only a relatively few dozen individuals have been captured, including a very small number of juveniles. With increasing deep-sea fishing operations, the time between captured individuals has recently become shorter.”

The megamouth that washed up in the Phillippines was about 15 feet long. On average, a megamouth generally grows up to 16 feet and can weigh up to 2,700 pounds. Researchers are planning on preserving the shark’s body so that it can be studied.

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