Megamouth Shark Sightings – Why This Giant Shark Is Seldom Seen


With fewer than 300 sightings of the megamouth shark having been reported for the reason that species’ discovery within the mid-seventies, the current look of a pair of megamouth sharks simply 30 miles off the coast of San Diego got here as a shock to the fishermen who noticed the uncommon fish.

Megamouth Shark
Photograph: OpenCage, CC BY-SA 2.5, by way of Wikimedia Commons (cropped / resized by

What Is Identified About The Megamouth Shark?

The megamouth shark was first found in 1976, and since then there have been fewer than 300 sightings of this reclusive fish. Nearly all of megamouth encounters have concerned the shark being mistakenly caught as bycatch.

The megamouth grows to a size of as much as 7 meters / 22.97 ft, and and has a big head and thick lips.

With a mouth that’s as much as 1.3 meters / 4.27 ft. huge, there aren’t any prizes for guessing how the megamouth shark acquired its title!

Megamouth shark in museum
Photograph: opencage, CC BY-SA 2.5, by way of Wikimedia Commons (cropped / resized by

Though its measurement could also be intimidating, not like the vast majority of sharks, the megamouth just isn’t an energetic hunter. As an alternative, it’s a filter feeder, swimming by means of the ocean with its mouth open, gathering meals from the water because it goes. Buildings referred to as gill-rakers inside the shark’s mouth filter meals from the seawater.

The megamouth is one in every of three sharks identified to feed on this method, the opposite two being the whale shark and the basking shark, that are the world’s largest and second-largest fish, respectively.

Meals captured by the megamouth shark consists of plankton, jellyfish, and small crustaceans. The shark’s giant mouth, small tooth and rounded snout have generally led observers to mistake it for a younger orca.

Bioluminescent Mouth?

It was as soon as hypothesized that the shark’s white higher lip might possess some type of bioluminescence, appearing as a light-weight lure to lure prey into its mouth.

Research have since disproved this, discovering that this space of pores and skin is definitely fabricated from the identical substance that makes fish scales shine. Nevertheless, the concept this acts as a gentle lure remains to be believable, though it isn’t bioluminescent.

The place Is The Megamouth Shark Discovered?

The primary megamouth shark was found in 1976, after having develop into entangled in a US Navy ship’s anchor off the coast of Hawaii.

It was one other eight years earlier than a second was discovered off the coast of California. Megamouth sharks have since been discovered within the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.

Over half of the world’s megamouth sightings have been made off the coast of Taiwan. It isn’t identified whether or not it is because the shark’s inhabitants is largest on this area or as a result of extra megamouths are caught right here because of the nation’s energetic whaling trade.

Since 2013, Taiwanese fishing vessels have been required to each report the seize of any megamouth sharks and retain the physique for samples. This has resulted in 136 reported megamouth shark captures.

Native environmental teams are campaigning for higher safety for the megamouth shark. Though the fishing trade claims the sharks are being caught mistakenly as bycatch, it’s alleged that the species is being deliberately focused.

Why Is The Megamouth So Uncommon?

The megamouth is a deep-water shark and because of this isn’t seen by people. The species will be discovered anyplace from the floor to depths of 15,000 toes (4600 meters).

Like many deep-sea creatures, the megamouth spends most of its life at midnight depths of the ocean, solely coming to the floor at night time.

How Quick Does The Megamouth Shark Swim?

Researchers hooked up a radio tag to a person megamouth that was caught off the coast of California, earlier than releasing it again into the ocean. The monitoring information revealed that the shark traveled extremely slowly, swimming at speeds of between 0.93 and 1.30 miles per hour. It moved up and down within the water column through the night time and day respectively. The shark’s poor swimming capability is confirmed by its delicate, flabby physique, in distinction to extra energetic filter-feeding sharks (supply).

It’s probably that these sharks are naturally very uncommon, however scientists should not have sufficient information on the species to precisely decide its conservation standing. They’re thought of weak to overfishing as a result of they develop so slowly and have very low charges of replica, so any inhabitants decline could also be troublesome to reverse.

An Uncommon Sighting

Though the sighting of any megamouth shark is extraordinary, the truth that two have been noticed collectively makes this much more attention-grabbing. Up to now sightings have been singular, and that is probably the primary time that two megamouth sharks have ever been seen collectively.

Scientists have speculated as as to if this will likely have been courtship conduct, probably indicating that southern California might be an essential breeding floor for this uncommon species.

How A lot Do We Know About Megamouth Copy?

Yow will discover out extra about shark replica on the next pages:

Shark Life Cycle & Shark Copy: How Do Sharks Reproduce?

Do Sharks Lay Eggs? Info On Shark Eggs & Mermaid’s Purses

There’s little strong details about the replica of megamouth sharks, as no recovered specimens have carried embryos. Nevertheless, observations from the ovaries of feminine sharks recommend that they’re ovoviviparous, which means that younger sharks develop in eggs contained in the mom’s physique earlier than they hatch as stay younger.

Through the gestation interval, the mom will feed her younger with unfertilized eggs, moderately than offering vitamins by way of a placenta, as different animals that give beginning to stay younger do. When the younger sharks are born, they’re normally round 170cm in size and can instantly develop into filter feeders.

Analysis has offered only a few solutions concerning the megamouth’s courtship conduct, however some females have been caught with recent mating scars on their our bodies at many various occasions of the yr, indicating that they mate all yr spherical. Additionally it is thought that the shark offers beginning to younger in decrease latitude waters, as that is the place most juvenile megamouths have been reported (supply).

Usually, feminine megamouths are bigger than males. The species, like different sharks, is assumed to point out indeterminate development. Which means the shark by no means stops rising all through its life, and can proceed to extend in measurement for so long as its atmosphere permits.

Which means there isn’t a selected age at which a megamouth shark reaches maturity, however a sure measurement. Half of all females studied reached maturity at 5.17 meters in size, whereas males reached maturity at 4.26 meters.

This pattern is identical as in different shark species, the place feminine sharks are bigger as a result of they want the additional girth to have the ability to carry their younger (supply).

Extra Questions Than Solutions

Though our data of the megamouth shark has elevated over current years, a lot of what we all know relies on data from different shark species, and there may be little information immediately referring to megamouths.

Which means there are nonetheless so many questions that scientists don’t have solutions to.

For instance, how giant can megamouth sharks develop and the way lengthy do they stay? Have they got any predators? What number of pups have they got? Though mating scars have been reported, we nonetheless know so little about their courtship conduct and the place they breed.

We don’t even know the way extensively distributed the sharks are, and with out this detailed data, it’s troublesome to know the way finest to guard them. Every new megamouth sighting is essential in offering scientists with recent insights into these elusive creatures and their mysterious lives within the deep.

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