Weird Ones | The Goblin Shark
The goblin shark (Mitsukurina owstoni) is not likely to win any beauty contests – in fact Hollywood would probably go out of its way to sign it up for a subject of a Frankenstein-style horror movie.
Unmistakeable and quite unsightly. Long but thin, light pink body.
Reaches a length of about 3.6m.
Spans most oceans, including the western and eastern Atlantic and the western Pacific.
Need to know
Single male, with flat, blade-like, elongated snout, tiny eyes without nictitating eyelids, soft, flabby body, very long cusped teeth, and long caudal fin without a ventral lobe, seeks female for fun time and foraging around the Continental Shelf, must like deep, dark water.’ If an advert read like this in the personal ad section of a newspaper, it would understandably receive no serious response. Place it in the Goblin Shark Gazette, however, and watch it grab the attention of several deep-dwelling female sharks.
The goblin shark is not likely to win any beauty contests – in fact Hollywood would probably go out of its way to sign it up for a subject of a Frankenstein-style horror movie. This spooky-looking fish likes to stay down in the dark depths of 550m and beyond (perhaps to escape those Hollywood film producers).
Apart from information gathered by scientists from specimens caught as bycatch in deep-fishing nets, little is known about the goblin shark. It remains essentially a mystery, but its bizarre features provide some clues to the shark’s eating habits. Being a deep dweller it is a sluggish, slow-moving shark and uses little energy to catch its prey. Its paddle-like snout is thought to aid the animal’s electrosensory system in detecting and capturing a potential meal. The jaw has been carefully designed to project from the head like Pac-man, while the teeth at the front of its narrow, pointed jaw are long and needle-like, ideal for grasping small fish. All these strange and particularly unattractive features make this shark an extremely efficient killing machine.