A fisherman trawling for shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico, south of Key West, Florida, got the surprise of his life when he pulled up the nets on April 19th - intermingled with the tiny shrimp was a giant shark, the kind that one would only expect to encounter in a horror movie! What was even scarier, was that the shark was alive and menacingly trashing around the deck, trying its best to escape.
While Carl Moore was too scared to go near enough to measure it, he did take a few photos of the hideous creature for his 3-year-old grandson who loves sharks. That turned out to be fortuitous for all of us, since unknown to Moore, the creature he had accidently picked up was a goblin shark, the most elusive member of the shark family.
Sometimes referred to as 'living fossils', the fish are normally known to dwell at depths of 5,000 feet in waters near Japan and South Africa. This is only the second sighting of this scary looking animal off the Gulf Coast. The last one that occurred a decade ago, created so much excitement that it resulted in a scientific paper about the creature.
Given that only ten people, a number that includes Moore, have ever seen the goblin shark, very little is known about them.
The bright pink creatures sport a long pointy snout that mask some terrifyingly sharp teeth which stay well hidden, until its time to attack. The deep sea dwellers are known to eat everything that comes their way including rays and other sharks.
Though shark experts are not sure how the fish developed their unusual color, they believe it helps provide a perfect camouflage. That's because at the depths of the ocean they lives in, red appears black, making the sharks invisible to unsuspecting prey. The researchers have also discovered that the goblin shark's long snout is equipped with electrical sensors that allow it to locate prey, even when it cannot hear or see it. What the researchers do not know, is how many of these ancient creatures exist and how long they live.
Not surprisingly, the photos of the latest goblin shark has created tremendous excitement amongst shark lovers all over the the world The scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who examined Moore's photos on May 1st, believe that the specimen was about 18-feet long and think that it was a female - though they are unable to confirm that for sure.
While some shark lovers wished that the rare fish had not been tossed back, so that they could have had a chance to examine it, Moore who has been a fisherman for 50 years has no regrets. As he succinctly puts it "That's my ocean out there and anything in it concerns me..I know the value of trying to preserve things,". As for his grandchild? He thought his grandfather's terrifying find was 'cool'!
Resources: chron.com, theguardian.com