Rare Megamouth Shark Washed Ashore a Philippine Coastal Village

On June 11, local fishermen in Gubat, Sorsogon, found the megamouth shark, a deepwater fish, dead in seclusion on the coasts of Sorsogon, Philippines.

The cause of death is still unknown, according to Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) officials. Nonie Enolva, Chief of Fisheries Resource Management Section for BFAR, pointed out that she thinks it might have gotten entangled in a fishing net.

Enolva posted a photo of the dead megamouth shark on Facebook, with a caption describing the shark as “beached.”

Megamouth Sharks

Megamouth sharks can live up to 100 years and are only very infrequently seen by humans. They spend the majority of their lives in the dark and can live up to 15,000 feet below the ocean’s surface.

The bulbous head of the megamouth shark is rounded at the snout and has a large mouth. The body tapers back to a moderate caudal (tail) fin with a heavier top lobe.

Their skin is light gray to white below and dark gray-brown on top.

The megamouth shark is thought to be a diurnal animal that spends the day following krill swarms from the open ocean’s surface and diving deep at night.

They are believed to be one of the largest shark species, coming in third place behind basking and whale sharks despite their rarity of sightings. They can reach a height of 16 feet and weigh on average 2,700 pounds. The megamouth shark specimen found at the shores of Sorsogon was about 15 feet long.

According to Enolva, the agency is interested in learning and confirming the cause of the megamouth shark’s demise. She also explained the agency’s goals in trying to preserve the specimen through taxidermy or submerging it in a solution for preservation.

Read also: 5 Biggest Sharks to Have Ever Lived in the Ocean 

Megamouth Discovery

Since the species’ initial discovery in 1976, there have been 269 confirmed sightings of megamouth sharks worldwide, according to the Florida Museum.

The majority of sightings take place in Taiwan, where the species occasionally end up as bycatch after getting caught in fishing nets. Globally, the Philippines has had the second-most sightings reported.

The Florida Museum’s final sighting was in San Roque, Philippines, in December 2021.

The sharks are typically already dead when they wash up on the shore.

The Philippines’ Bicol region has seen three megamouths, with this one being the third. The body of water is an excellent fishing location with a variety of marine life. Rare and endangered species may also be drawn to the ecosystem.

Megamouth shark sightings are too infrequent for data collection, so it is unknown how many are present worldwide. This has also prevented authorities from taking action to protect the shark. Since commercial fisheries started exploring deeper waters in search of a wider variety of species, shark sightings have increased.

In Hawaii, a sea anchor was unintentionally used to trap the first megamouth shark ever found. Even though the vessel was engaged in a classified operation for the United States Navy, the incident was not reported for many years.

Related article: Rare Megamouth Shark Caught Off Japanese Coast 


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