The megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) made it's grand introduction to the scientific world in 1976 by a U.S navy research vessel operating around Oahu, Hawaii. How did the shark alert scientists of its presence? By getting tangled in a bunch of wires.
You may be wondering where its common name came from... well, if the picture didn't give it away, ‘megamouth’ came from its gaping mouth. This shark is so odd that it is in its very own genus and family; it is the sole member of the genus Megachasma. It has been estimated that there have been over a hundred sightings of this shark since the first discovery - in fact, scientist Paul Clerkin even got to tag one on Shark Week- the first person to do so!
While there is growing data about megamouth behaviour, being a deepsea shark means we still don't know a lot about it! Population size? No idea. How they're fairing? Not a clue! Where they are found? Outside of the sightings in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans we don't have much else to go on.
What we do know is that this is another filter feeding shark, gulping in plankton from the water. It is also believed that their lips/roof of their mouths are bioluminescent, which attracts prey to it in the deep sea where it is very dark. The IUCN has assessed these animals as Least Concern (LC).
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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