Rare Frilled Shark Captured Off Australian Coast

A rare frilled shark was captured off the coast of Victoria, Australia. With more than 300 teeth and a long sleek body, the unusual creature actually resembles an eel. However, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation confirmed the shark’s identity.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, the frilled shark was captured by David Guillot last month. Guillot said he was fishing near the Lakes Entrance in Gippsland when he unexpectedly captured the unusual creature.

“I’ve been at sea for 30 years and I’ve never seen a shark look like that. The head on it was like something out of a horror movie. It was quite horrific looking… It was quite scary actually… the body was quite different to any other shark I’d ever seen.”

Although frilled sharks look frightening, they are of little danger to humans. As discussed by Shark Insider, the “living fossils” primarily dine on mollusks, and spend a majority of their time in the deep sea.

The frilled shark was first recognized and recorded in 1884. It is called a living fossil, as “its closest related species is the cow shark, which dates back about 95 million years.”

William White, with the Australian National Fish Collection, said the unusual creatures are generally found in deep waters. However, as they migrate up the water column at night, they are sometimes spotted closer to the surface.

White said he previously saw a frilled shark in Victoria and also in a Taiwanese fish market. Although he agrees that they are rare, the researcher disagrees with Guillot’s description of the fish. White said he “wouldn’t call it hideous at all.”

Australian Institute of Marine Science biologist Mark Meekan said it is unusual that the frilled shark was captured off the Victoria coast. However, it is not unheard of.

“There are usually three main spots it is found, in waters off New Zealand, near Japan and along the coast of the British Isles, down through Spain into northern Africa. However, there are some maps that show distributions that encompass the Victorian coast.”

David Guillot offered to donate the shark to CSIRO, but they already had a frilled shark specimen. The eventual fate of the creature is unknown, but it is rumored that it was sold.

Simon Boag, with the South East Trawl Fishing Association, said the frilled shark was captured in 2300-foot waters. However, as trawling is generally prohibited below 2,300 feet, he does not expect it to happen again.

[Image via Wikimedia]