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Rare Megamouth Shark Dies a Day After Being Found off the Japanese Coast

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Still image of the megamouth from footage recorded by reporters Shingo Kuzutani and Kotaro Ebara/Asahi Shimbun

A rare megamouth shark has died a day after been sighted and filmed in Japan.

The deep-water Megachasma pelagios was found in a fishing net just offshore from the Japanese town of Tateyama, on the southern shore of Japan’s Honshu island, in the early morning of 22 May, and transferred to a cage in the ocean.

According to an article by Yumi Nakayama in the Asahi Shimbun, who first reported the discovery on 23 May, the 5-6m long female shark was found immobile and 'faintly breathing' by celebrity fish expert Sakana-kun (quite literally ‘Mr. Fish’), who had previously identified the creature. The shark died just a short time later

'It is regrettable,' said Sakana-kun, whose real name is Masayuki Miyazawa, professor emeritus of the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology. 'Having seen her on the previous day I thought she was going to become energetic.'

The species is a relatively new discovery to science, having been first recorded in 1979 in the waters around Hawaii and with only 110 sightings worldwide, 20 of which have been in Japan.

Sho Tanaka, a professor at Tokai University’s Department of Marine Biology is quoted in the Shimbun as saying 'If a specimen of her skeleton is created that will be valuable. We should utilize her body for the research.'

A video filmed by the Asahi Shimbun reporters just after the discovery was released on YouTube - notable as much for Sakana-kun's headgear and excitable personality as much as it is for the shark - and although the animal is now sadly deceased, the footage of this rare shark is well worth a watch.


Video taken by Shingo Kuzutani and Kotaro Ebara/Asahi Shimbun

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