Incredibly Rare Megamouth Shark Washes Ashore In The Philippines

The carcass of a megamouth shark, an incredibly rare species that has been sighted less than 70 times since its discovery in 1976, has washed ashore in the Philippines, measuring 16 feet in length.

The shark was found by fishermen in Marigondon, a port in Pio Duran, Albay, according to IFLScience. When they stumbled upon it on the morning of January 28, the anglers noted that the megamouth was wounded and missing its tail fin. Though the cause of its demise has not been reported, the head of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Regional Emergency Stranding Response Team, Nonie Enolva, asserted that the shark may have been trapped by a fishing net.

Already dead when it was located, the megamouth was a male measuring four and a half meters, and is the 15th found in the Philippines, according to Business Insider. Though megamouth sharks have been spotted all over the world, only Japan can claim more sightings than the Philippines. Deeply uncommon, the megamouth was considered until recently by some to be a cryptid, too rare to be acknowledged by science. One of the most poorly understood species of shark, the megamouth was confirmed to exist in 1976, when a U.S. Navy vessel accidentally pulled a specimen out of the depths.

When the megamouth was first discovered, scientists had to establish a new family and genus of shark to classify the species. Enigmatic creatures, megamouths sport 50 rows of small teeth on each jaw, yet they are filter feeders, much like basking sharks and whale sharks. They are poor swimmers, a quality that scientists attribute to their soft fins, asymmetrical tail, and bodily structure.

Little is known about the habits of megamouth sharks, yet in 1990, the sixth specimen ever recorded was tagged and observed off California. Based on the data collected from that shark, researchers believe that megamouths spend most of the day in deep waters, ascending to shallower depths at nighttime to feed. Another specimen, the 13th observed, fell victim to a sperm whale, proving that megamouth sharks can be preyed upon by cetaceans.

Just last year, another megamouth was caught off the coast of Japan. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the shark was a 13-foot-long female, weighing 1,500 pounds.

Scientists will examine the specimen to determine exactly what caused the death of the rare megamouth shark, one of only a few ever recorded.

[Image: Reuters via Business Insider]