The Megamouth Shark is an endangered shark species discovered in 1976, weighing around 2700 pounds. However, the megamouth shark is still the smallest among filter-feeding sharks, behind the basking and whale sharks.
After its discovery, the megamouth shark became very unlikely seen, and many thought it didn’t exist today.
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Description And Physical Attributes
The main feature of the megamouth shark is its overly circular mouth, which comes across four feet. Megamouth sharks live just above the seabed and as deep as 15,000 feet.
Like any other deep-sea fish species, they would spend most of their lives in the dark and become more active at night. They are filter feeders and constantly open their mouths wide enough to filter out their preferred planktonic prey.
Even considered one of the largest sharks, megamouth sharks are not skilled swimmers. Their dorsal fins are small enough to carry their bodies, while the pectoral fins are smaller than their head, and it has an asymmetrical caudal fin with an upper lobe.
They also have tiny eyes and a rounded snout. Its tongue is covered with mucosa and grows 50 rows of small sharp teeth, but they only use the first three rows. It also has photophores, a glandular organ capable of bioluminescence, around its mouth.
Distribution And Habitat
Scientists couldn’t claim their distribution because this information is yet uncertain. However, there were a few sightings of megamouth sharks in the Pacific area, Atlantic Ocean, and the Indian Ocean.
The first discovery was sighted in Hawaii, and 55 more sightings have been registered in the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, Japan, and Brazil.
Behavior Of The Megamouth Shark
Since they are rare species, limited information was provided. But for an overview, they are known to exhibit the very same behavior as other benthic fishes. It’s also non-tolerant with disturbances and noises in the ocean.
In the 1990s, megamouth sharks were monitored for two days in California. Aquatic researchers noticed that they tend to hide during mid-day and when the sun began to hide, they would resurface between the depths of 12 and 25 meters.
As mentioned above, megamouth sharks are filter feeders, meaning they are fed by filtrating their desired plankton. Megamouth sharks’ diet may also include copepods, pelagic jellyfish, and shrimp.
Other details about their feeding seemed limited, but most scientists found out that they are using their mouth and lower jaws to filter these planktonic organisms.
The megamouth shark becomes sexually mature when they reach a length of about 4 meters. Their fertilization is internal when the male inserts its claspers into the female for sperm transfer.
The female shark produces their offspring through eggs hatched in their bodies until they give birth, presuming that their offspring would feed on the eggs inside the female shark’s body.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature does not have enough materials and data to classify their needs. Still, there was not a single report about the human attack so far.
The only threat to them is commercial fishing activities, which rarely happen because of the existing marine laws.