Megamouth Shark Facts
- The quite impressive Megamouth Shark represents a type of deep-water shark that continues to be considered extremely rare.
- Science did not discover this creature until 1976, and, to date, we have only seen or found 60 individuals.
- Understandably, researchers have very little information about it. Therefore, the IUCN currently lists the species as Data Insufficient.
- Sadly, we simply do not know much about its numbers and we know even less about its biology. Consequently, part of what we think we know about it remains based entirely on extrapolation.
- However, it appears quite unlike any other type of known shark and scientists therefore usually classify it as the only extant member of the Megachasmidae family.
Megamouth Shark Physical Description
The remarkable Megamouth Shark attains a maximum length of 18 ft (5.5 m), and weights of as much as 2,679 lb (1,215 kg). That’s big but it’s actually the smallest of the three known varieties of filter-feeding sharks.
In color, individuals also typically display a dark brown on the upper portion while the underside shows an off-white.
Most noteworthy remains the over-sized mouth, where the numerous teeth grow small and rounded. Especially relevant seems to be the presence of photophores around the outside of the mouth.
In addition, the interior of the gills contains numerous gill rakers which filter the food from the water.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Chondrichthyes
- Order: Lamniformes
- Family: Megachasmidae
- Genus: Megachasma
- Species: M. pelagios
Megamouth Shark Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Firstly, the Megamouth Shark appears to inhabit nearly all tropical oceans but only within a very specific depth range of 39-520 ft (12-160 m). Evidence indicates that it also migrates through this range.
Though rather poor and slow swimmers, it has no need to hurry. As filter-feeders, individuals swim with the huge mouth wide open.
It seems that most inhabit deeper regions by day and move to shallower ones by night. Perhaps these follow the movements of food. Its diet appears to consist solely of plankton and small jellyfish.
The shark, just like most others, also possesses an ovoviviparous nature.
If a creature this big has remained undiscovered for so long, what other monsters does nature still hide from us?