What part do I point out first? The nail-like teeth? The pointy nose? The protruding jaw? The fact that this shark is pink?
I don’t think this shark needs an introduction, as it is pretty much famous now: the goblin shark (Mitsukurina owstoni). These sharks are also known as "Elfin sharks," and are rare (only a few specimens have been discovered. The most recent one was caught in 2014 in the Gulf of Mexico out by the Florida Keys. This is only the second ever goblin shark to be caught in the Gulf of Mexico. The shark was photographed and released back into the water, but more than likely died.
Surprisingly, a few have been collected alive! In 2007, one was brought to Tokai University (lived only for a week) and another was brought to Tokyo Sea Life Park and lived for two days. This is likely due to the extreme pressure change. Although there are still many mysterious surrounding these critters, there is quite a bit scientists have gathered from the few species.
This species is usually found in the upper continental slope at depths of 270–960 m (890–3150 ft), but has also been captured at around 1300 m (4300 ft), and a tooth was found in an undersea cable at a depth of 1,370 m (4,490 ft). Adults are usually found deeper than juveniles, with immature goblins frequenting submarine canyons.
These sharks can get considerably big, measuring up to 3 m (10 ft), and their body shape indicates they are probably ambush predators and are sluggish the rest of the time. Did you know that not all their teeth are pointy? #Finfact: Goblin shark teeth near the back of the jaw are flattened for crushing of their prey. This includes fish, crustaceans and cephalopods. Garbage has also been collected from stomach samples, indicating that plastic pollution even dangers those creatures of the deep (Have you signed up for the #FinPledge to reduce your plastic pollution footprint?). It is likely that these sharks are viviparous like other mackerel sharks, and that embryos partake in oophagy.
These sharks don’t pose a threat to humans due to the depth they live at. The IUCN has assessed the goblin shark as Least Concern (LC) due to its wide range (the goblin shark has been caught in all three major oceans, proposing these sharks are cosmopolitan) and how fishing industries have caught very few adults.
And that's all, folks! That's all these narwhal reject look-a-likes have revealed to us... so far...
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
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