Captain Carl Moore was working about 10 miles off the coast of Key West, Fla., last month when he cast his net into gulf waters and discovered a terrifying prehistoric-looking creature known as the goblin shark.
The crew of fisherman who made the latest catch on April 19 had a net 2,000 feet under water and were shocked to find a massive 18-feet-long, pink shark among the shrimp they catch on a daily basis.
The prehistoric looking creature sometimes called the ‘living fossil’ thrashed on the deck and had teeth so sharp that the fishermen were too afraid to pull out the tape measure and hold it up to the mysterious creature.
“I didn’t even know what it was,” fisherman Carl Moore said. “I didn’t get the tape measure out because that thing’s got some wicked teeth, they could do some damage.”
“My three-year-old grandson just loves sharks, so I’ve been taking pictures of every one we find. When I showed him this one he said, ‘Wow, Pappa!’”
However, unfortunately for the scientists, Moore didn’t report his discovery until Thursday. He just took some picture of the rare creature and threw it back in the ocean.
Scientists know so little about the fish that they can’t even determine how old or how big it gets. John Karlson, a research biologist at NOAA, said they can range up to 10 to 13 feet. Although with the help of Moore’s photographs, researchers have guessed that the shark was a female and at least 18 feet long.
The goblin shark, a deep-water species, have distinctive features with a long head, flat snout, and protruding jaw. They are also pinkish in color and have blue fins.
It is thought that deep underwater the colour red appears black making the shark appear almost invisible to predators and prey. Its snout contains electrical sensors so it can find prey even when it cannot see or hear, says the Telegraph.
“This is great news,” said John Carlson, a shark expert at NOAA. “This is only the second confirmed sighting in the Gulf, the majority of specimens are found off Japan or in the Indian Ocean and around South Africa.”
David Schiffman, a marine biologist at the University of Miami, did not believe that a goblin shark would ever be found in the Gulf. The shark has previously been reported in the western Pacific, off Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, according to NOAA.
“At first I wasn’t sure if it was even possible for this to happen,” he said. “But then, when the photos came through, it is undeniably a goblin shark.”
“They don’t have any commercial value, other than their jaws,” marine biologist Charlott Stenberg told Southern Fried Science. “But, I have a Japanese friend who ate some of it and thought the tongue was delicious.”
The World Conservation Union lists the sharks as a minimal concern to humans because of how seldom people come into contact with them. They’re also not considered endangered or threatened.
“Biologists encourage people to call and report these rare sightings and catches as the information they can collect allows them to know more about a species,” NOAA said.