It wasn’t a Green Goblin that Florida shrimp fisherman Captain Carl Moore caught in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Key West last month, but a rare pink goblin shark. The last one seen in the Gulf of Mexico was in 2002. After taking photos of the goblin shark, Moore let the animal go, back to the depths of the ocean.
Goblin sharks are elusive, rarely-seen creatures, because of the great depths that they generally prowl, nearly 1000 meters deep in the ocean. They live primarily on a diet of fish and squid.
Why did Carl Moore let the goblin shark go?
At the time Florida fisherman caught the goblin shark on April 19, he didn’t realize exactly what a rare find he’d managed to haul up in his shrimping net. He didn’t even bother getting out a tape measure to see how long the shark was, as its “head was slashing around,” and Moore saw that it had “some wicked teeth, they could do some damage.”
Moore took a few photos of the odd-looking goblin shark with his cell phone, which he’d just bought, then — not knowing what sort of shark it was that he’d caught — he had it hoisted back down into the Gulf of Mexico from whence he’d caught it on April 19. Moore just knew it was the “ugliest” looking shark he’s ever seen, and that it looked “alien.”
On Thursday, May 1, Carl Moore managed to get off a report about the strange-looking shark to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientists there recognized that Moore had caught a goblin shark, and they wanted to know more information about what happened.
On the one hand, the scientists were glad that the goblin shark was apparently in good health and that it was set free rather than being killed, but on the other hand, they would have liked to have been able to learn more about the goblin shark.
Research biologist John Karlson said that the goblin shark Captain Moore had caught was “a very rare finding,” that not much was known about. From the photos, it’s estimated that the goblin shark Captain Carl Moore caught was approximately 5 meters, or 18 feet, long, which would be quite large for the species. Most examples ever recorded of the goblin shark range from nine to 12 feet in length. Karlson also thinks that it might have been a female goblin shark.
Goblin sharks have fairly long heads, with small, beady-looking eyes and snouts that are flat and elongated. Their jaws are one of the main characteristics about the goblins sharks that make them appear fierce and nightmarish, as they are protrusible ones with more than 50 thin, long, and very sharp teeth in them. Animals with protrusible jaws have jaws which they can protrude (extend) or withdraw at will. Goblin sharks have white fins, and bodies that are pinkish in color and look rather flabby, possibly because of the great depths which they ordinarily inhabit.
Goblin sharks have been more commonly seen off of the coast of Japan, though those sightings are also relatively rare. That’s one of the reasons why scientists are curious about Captain Carl Moore’s catch on April 19. Possibly goblin sharks migrate to the Gulf of Mexico at certain times of the year, or as a part of their life cycle, though those are just suppositions for now. The scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration want to work with Captain Moore to find out any further information that he might have about the elusive goblin shark he landed.
Written by: Douglas Cobb