Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Goblin Shark (Mitsukurina owstoni)

Overview - Form may follow function, but it does not always have to be pretty. While the goblin shark is well adapted for its deep-sea habitat, some people have referred to this fish as “the ugliest living shark.” Still others liken it to an alien from outer space. Its mostly pink body contains soft, flabby flesh. Perhaps its most distinguishing feature is its uniquely shaped head. The shark’s beak-like snout protrudes like a trowel, making it perfect for investigating muddy ocean bottoms. When the goblin shark retracts its jaws, the snout looks more like a really long, pink nose. Since this shark frequents deep waters, sunshine does not provide much light at such levels. The goblin shark, therefore, has very small eyes, and must often rely on its other senses for detecting predators and prey, as well as for directing movements.

Feeding Habits - The diet of goblin sharks consists of crabs, deep sea fishes, shrimps and other organisms within its habitat, which covers regions offJapan, Australia, Portugal and South Africa, as well as portions of the Atlantic Ocean. Its teeth are shaped like long needles that the shark can manipulate like a grasping claw. Locating meals may be tricky, but once prey is detected, it stands little chance of escape as soon as the goblin shark sinks in its teeth.
Cool Fact - The goblin shark’s scientific name honors two men, Kakichi Mitsukuri and Alan Owston, who both helped with this shark’s discovery at the end of the 19th century.
Depth - 4,265 feet. 

February 9, 2007—A rare goblin shark—a "living fossil" that closely resembles ancient shark species—was caught alive recently in Tokyo Bay, only to die within days.
Officials from the Tokyo Sea Life Park discovered the 4.3-foot-long (1.3-meter-long) creature on January 25 during an expedition with local fishermen. The shark had been tangled in fishing nets 500 to 650 feet (150 to 200 meters) deep.
But the animal died on the morning of January 27 after being put on display for the public.
Little is known about the mysterious goblin shark, which normally stays near the bottom of the ocean.
"Dead goblin sharks are caught from time to time, but it is rarely seen alive," a park official told the AFP news agency. "We were able to document the way the shark swims. After it died, we dissected the specimen for further studies."
But the unusual find is giving scientists déjà vu.
Earlier this month another deep-sea prehistoric shark had been found in Japan—a frilled shark spotted on January 21 that, like the goblin, died quickly in captivity.

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