Animals

Rare Megamouth Shark Caught in Japanese Fishing Net

The elusive species has only been spotted 50 to 60 times since its discovery in 1976.

A megamouth shark, a species rarely seen, was caught last week by Japanese fishermen, Yahoo Australia reported.

It was caught in fishing nets off the main island city of Owase and was said to be about 16 feet (5 meters) long, weighing in at 1 ton.

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Megamouth sharks are tough to come by. They were discovered just 40 years ago in 1976 and have only been seen some 50 times, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Perhaps the most distinctive looking of sharks, they're filter feeders, opening their jaws wide while they swim, taking in plankton and jellyfish.

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Our knowledge about them is lacking, however.

"We have yet to discover everything about these mystifying creatures: their behavior, reproduction, physiology, and some anatomical features," NOAA biologist Jose Castro said in 2012. "The most we have learned about these creatures is through necropsies, or looking at them after they've died."

"The megamouth shark shows how little we know about the oceans. A lot remains to be discovered, even about these large animals," Castro said.

The shark was sold to a local fish merchant.

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