Residents of the coastal village of Barangay Marigondon in the Philippines were witness to a strange sight in the last week of January. The carcass of an extremely rare and mysterious animal known as the megamouth shark had washed up on one of the beaches in the town.
The shark was over 15-feet long and has been confirmed to be a fully grown adult male. Residents of the town were terrified of the shark initially, as it resembled nothing they had seen before, and for good reason. The megamouth shark is an extremely rare species of the shark family, and according to the Mirror, only 64 confirmed sightings have ever been reported about this animal since its discovery in 1976. According to BT, Megamouth sharks can reach up to 18 feet in length and are among the biggest shark species. The species were discovered accidentally in 1976 when one specimen was caught in a fisherman's net.
As the name suggests, megamouth sharks have a humongous mouth that opens wide to suck in plankton, its food of choice. The mouth is lined with 50 rows of small teeth. The teeth are so small that the residents of the Filipino town named the shark "toothless" before officials from the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources confirmed that the animal was indeed a megamouth shark. Villagers also took several photos of the Megamouth shark, some of which managed to end up on social media websites as well.
According to Southampton University shark scholar Christopher Bird, the megamouth shark has never been studied closely and little is known about their life cycle.
"It's only really seen when it's accidentally caught in fishermen's nets or when it is stranded on beaches," he added.
Meanwhile, authorities from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources took possession of the carcass and began investigating the animal's cause of death. They are looking to figure if the shark was sick or simply died of old age. Megamouth sharks, by the way, can live up to be 100-years-old. After investigation is complete, the remains of the shark will be transferred to the Albay Parks and Wildlife Centre, where it would be kept on public display. Last year, a megamouth shark was captured off the Philippine coast, and its remains were sent to a local museum.
The news about the finding of this rare megamouth shark comes just weeks after another rare prehistoric shark species known as the frilled shark was caught off the coast of Australia.
[Images Via Mirror UK, BT.com]