the-very-rare-megamouth-sharkThe megamouth shark is an extremely rare and unusual species. When the first megamouth was captured in 1976, a new shark family, genus and species, Megachasma pelagios, had to be instituted. Only a few have ever been seen, with 40 specimens known to have been caught or sighted as of 2008, ranging through the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Like the basking shark and whale shark, it is a filter feeder, and swims with its enormous mouth wide open, filtering water for plankton and jellyfish. However, the megamouth is considered to be less active and a poorer swimmer than the basking or whale sharks due to its flabby body, soft fins, asymmetrical tail and lack of keels.

The megamouth has a brownish-blackish color on top and white underneath, a broad rounded snout, and a distinctive large head with rubbery lips. They can grow to 18 feet in length and have been recorded at weights of 2,600 pounds. The capture in a drift net of a megamouth shark in California in 1990 was very important in understanding the species. The megamouth shark was tagged and released, and followed for two days. Its pattern of behavior, staying at a depth of 50 feet during the night, then diving to 500 feet at dawn, would indicate it is a vertical migratory over a 24 hour span.

NEWS - April 7, 2009 - A 13 foot long megamouth shark was caught by Phillipine fishermen, and died while struggling in their fishing net. It was taken to Donsoi where World Wildlife Fund officials were unable to persuade the fishermen not to eat this very rare species. This was only the 41st specimen ever recorded in the world. The fishermen butchered the over 1,000 pound shark and cooked it in coconut milk. — Inspired by seapics.com