An extremely rare megamouth shark was found washed up from the ocean depths in a Philippines coastal village.
The deepwater shark was discovered dead by local fisherfolk in a remote area of Gubat, in Sorsogon on June 11, Philippines news outlet Rappler reported.
Officials from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) do not yet know the cause of death. However, BFAR spokesperson Nonie Enolva told Rappler that she suspects it may have become tangled in a fishing net.
The megamouth shark is very rarely sighted by humans, and can live up to 100 years. They can live as far as 15,000 feet below the surface of the ocean, spending most of their lives in the dark.
Although rarely seen, they are thought to be one of the largest shark species, third only to the whale shark and basking shark. On average they weigh about 2,700 pounds and grow up to 16 feet.
This megamouth shark measured about 15 feet, Enolva told Rappler.
“We want to know and verify the cause of death of the megamouth shark. We want to preserve it either through taxidermy or submerge it through preservation solutions,” she told Rappler.
According to the Florida Museum, there have been 269 confirmed sightings of megamouth sharks across the world since the species was first discovered in 1976.
Most sightings occur in Taiwan, where the species is sometimes caught as bycatch after becoming tangled in fishing nets. The Philippines has the second most recorded sightings globally.
The last sighting recorded by the Florida Museum occurred in December 2021, in San Roque, Philippines.
When the sharks wash ashore, they are usually already dead.
This megamouth is the third to wash up in the Bicol area of the Philippines. The body of water is a thriving fishing area, rich in marine species. The ecosystem can in turn attract rare and endangered species, Rappler reported.
It is not known how many megamouth sharks are in the world, as it is too rarely sighted to gather data. This has also prevented officials from implementing conservation measures for the shark.
The species has been sighted more regularly ever since commercial fisheries began plunging into deeper waters in order to find a more diverse range of species.
The first megamouth shark ever discovered was accidentally caught entangled in a sea anchor in Hawaii. Although the incident was not reported on for many years as the vessel was involved in a classified operation for the U.S. Navy.
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