A shrimp fisherman in the Florida Keys caught an extremely rare Goblin Shark by mistake and snapped a few photos before throwing it back into the ocean. The shark was about 18 feet in length. Carl Moore, the fisherman who caught the shark, said he was unaware of its species when the shark landed on board his deck and only notified the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, on Thursday.
Moore’s shark was only one of two sharks caught in the area to date, though they have been sighted all over the globe. The majority of Goblin sharks are found off of the coast of Japan, but little is known about the strange-looking creature. An NOAA specialist said that scientists do not currently know the average lifespan of Goblin sharks nor how fast they grow. They are deep-sea dwelling predators with a face befitting their name. They appear a pinkish-red color at surface level, but are almost impossible to see at the depth they hunt.
The Goblin Shark, or Elfin Shark, is labeled with the species name Mitsukurina owstoni. While they infrequently interact with human fishermen they are probably very common at deep sea depths. The original Japanese name for the shark was “tenguzame,” which loosely translates to goblin. They have tiny eyes, a long snout, and a frightening row of front teeth. Though its eyes are rarely used, the Goblin Shark’s nose has electromagnetic sensors in order to find its prey.
Two Great White sharks were spotted in the Gulf of Mexico last week, as well, and video footage released by divers shows the giants gracefully meandering by. In comparison to the Goblin shark, Great Whites can grow between 15 and 20 feet long and can weigh almost 5000 pounds. Great Whites are actually blue-gray on the top part of their bodies, to camouflage them when seen from above, and white only on the bottom part of their bodies.
Scientists claim that there are at least three Great Whites that inhabit the Gulf of Mexico. One of these, named Betsy, was tagged near Cape Cod in 2013. Scientists say that it is difficult to determine whether the frequency of Great Whites, and perhaps other Sharks, in the area has increased in recent years or if the widespread usage of videophone equipment has increased the amount of documented sightings.
In the 21 years between 1990 and 2011, there were only 29 fatal shark attacks. While attacks by Great Whites are incredibly rare, the prospect of being bitten strikes many with fear. Goblin sharks pose even less of a risk as they remain in deep waters and almost never interact with humans.
The Goblin shark has an incredibly unique jaw, which quickly projects outward in order to snatch unsuspecting prey. Much like a Venus flytrap or frog’s tongue, the Goblin shark’s entire mouth shoots out and swallows its victim whole in one, swift motion. While Carl Moore unexpectedly caught the shark in the midst of his 50-year shrimp-fishing career, it is unlikely another will be caught off the Florida coast for quite a long time.
By: James Ryder