Rare Goblin Shark, A ‘Living Fossil,’ Caught Off NSW Coast

Dustin Wicksell - Author

Mar. 1 2017, Updated 3:10 a.m. ET

A crew of fishermen working off the coast of NSW were astonished when they landed a goblin shark last Thursday, pulling the rarely seen predator out of the depths in a net filled with crayfish.

Sometimes referred to as “living fossils,” goblin sharks are an exceedingly rare species that make their home near the sea floor, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The anglers were pulling in their nets off Green Cape, south of Eden, when they spied the unusual shark amid their expected catch. Lochlainn Kelly, 22, who was helping to collect the nets, related that he felt excited when he discovered the shark, rather than afraid.

“We just winched up the wire and brought the net on and the shark was in the net,” he recalled.

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The trawlermen, who admitted that they had never before seen a goblin shark in the flesh, even though they were aware of the predators, took the specimen to the Wharf Aquarium. There, curator Michael McMaster examined it along with Alan Scrymgeour, of the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Center.

Scrymgeour noted that the goblin shark was likely just 3-years-old, based on its length of only 1.2 meters. Adult goblin sharks, he observed, can reach lengths of up to 3.8 meters. He also pointed out that the sharks are considered an evolutionary dead end, with no other species sharing their genus. Goblin sharks are thought to have ceased developing some 70 million years ago.

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The goblin shark possesses a unique ability to extend its jaws outward, enabling it to ensnare its primary prey of shrimp, fish, and squid. As the Tech Times observes, the shark’s teeth are designed to trap smaller animals, rather than lacerate them like those of other, larger sharks.

Last year, a group of researchers invested months in tracking down a goblin shark in order to film it, as the Inquisitr previously reported. When found, the shark was startled by the approach of a diver and sank its teeth into his arm, momentarily trapping itself in his wetsuit.

McMaster noted that fishermen in the region have told him that the ocean currents around Australia are very different this year, positing that could be one reason why the rare shark found its way into the trawler’s nets. After examination, the goblin shark will be sent to the Australian Museum in Sydney to be kept in their collection.

[Image: Merimbula News Weekly via the Sydney Morning Herald]


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