Rare megamouth shark discovered in Philippines

Fishermen use a stretcher with steels bars to carry a rare 15-foot (4.5-m) megamouth shark (Megachasma Pelagios), which was trapped in a fishermen's net in Burias Pass in Albay and Masbate provinces, central Philippines January 28, 2015. A megamouth shark can reach to a maximum length of 17 feet (5.2 metres) with a life span of 100 years. It resides in deep waters but rises towards the surface at night to feed or eat plankton. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Albay province will investigate to determine the cause of the shark's death. REUTERS/Rhaydz Barcia (PHILIPPINES - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS HEALTH ENVIRONMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) (REUTERS)


A rare megamouth shark washed ashore dead in the Philippines this week, wildlife officials said. The 15-foot shark, a Megachasma pelagios (or "giant mouth of the deep"), was discovered on the beach in Marigondon, Pio Duran, in Albay province. The totally terrifying-looking specimen is one of less than 70 ever seen in the world, according to Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines.

The shark, nicknamed "Toothless," was preserved in ice by local villagers.

It's the first megamouth shark to be documented since July, when an 18-foot Megachasma pelagios was caught by Filipino fishermen. The first confirmed megamouth shark sighting was in 1976, when a deep-sea anchor accidentally caught one near Hawaii. Most have been found in Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan.

Despite the recent sightings, the megamouth shark remains "one of the most rarely seen species of sharks," David Shiffman, a marine biologist, told Business Insider.

Little is known about the species. According to the Shark Devocean blog, the deepwater shark is just one of three species (along with whale and basking sharks) that feed on plankton. The slow-moving giant bottom-feeder swims with its big mouth wide open, filtering water for plankton and jellyfish. The largest, discovered in waters off Taiwan, measured 19 feet.

The sharks can live to about 100, according to Reuters.

Oh, and they taste best battered and fried:

After processing the 7th ever recorded megamouth shark specimen in 1995, researchers couldn’t resist the temptation of tasting a piece of this mystery creature they had just dissected and analysed. They were subsequently treated to 3 different preparations of some dorsal muscle. Battered & fried is apparently the best way to eat this shark!

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