The impressive Megamouth Shark remains 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.
The IUCN currently lists the species as Data Insufficient.
Sadly, we simply do not know much about their numbers and we know even less about their biology. Consequently, part of what we think we know about them remains based entirely on extrapolation.
They appear 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 Characteristics
The remarkable fish 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, they typically display a dark brown on the upper portion while their 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. Perhaps they use these to lure the prey closer.
The interior of the gills contains numerous gill rakers which filter the food from the water.
Megamouth Shark Habitat and Ecology
Тhe 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 they migrate through this range.
Though rather poor and slow swimmers, they have no need to hurry. As filter-feeders, they swim with their huge mouth wide open.
It seems that they inhabit deeper regions by day and move to shallower ones by night. Perhaps they follow the movements of their food. Their diet appears to consist solely of plankton and small jellyfish.
The shark, just like most others, possesses an ovoviviparous nature.
If a creature this big has remained undiscovered for so long, what other monsters does nature still hide from us?