Goblin shark

Facts about Goblin shark

We found 19 facts about Goblin shark

Mitsukurina owstoni

It is very little known about these sharks as they are deep-sea-dwelling creatures. So far, no one managed to keep them in captivity alive for long enough to study their behavior. However, thanks to some encounters in the oceans knowledge of those unusual sharks are constantly growing.

Goblin shark
Goblin shark is a deep-sea, the only living representative of the Mitsukurinidae family.
Mitsukurinidae appeared in the late-Mesozoic era, about 125 million years ago. The oldest Mitsukurina fossils are from the middle Eocene and are 49-37 million years old. So far, two fossil species have been discovered: Mitsukurina lineata and Mitsukurina maslinensis.
Goblin shark was discovered in 1898 in Japanese waters.
It was described by American ichthyologist David Starr Jordan, who recognized it not only as a new species but also as a new family and genus.
It is distributed in all three major oceans.
It can be found in the Indo-Pacific and Oceania, Japan, South Africa, Gulf of Mexico, Suriname, French Guiana, southern Brazil, France, Portugal, Madeira and east of Senegal.
Goblin sharks live in a marine environment on depths below 100 meters.
They can be found in seamounts, upper continental slopes and submarine canyons. Younger specimens usually reside in less deep waters than their older counterparts.
They are known for their characteristic shape of the head, protruding jaws and pink-colored body.
They are equipped with five pairs of gill slits, gill openings are short and not extending onto dorsal surface of the head.
Typical goblin shark measures 3 to 4 meters in length.
The largest specimen so far has been caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Female measured at least 5,4 m, but dimensions were assumed by investigating photographs only. The maximum weight recorded so far is 210 kg, of a specimen 3,8 m long. Males reach maturity at body length between 2,64 and 3,22 m.
Bizarre snout is probably the most distinctive body feature of those fish.
Goblin sharks have long and flat snouts, small eyes that lack nictitating membrane (which is unusual for sharks), long and narrow teeth in front of a jaw and flat ones located behind that are used for crushing food.
Their snout is equipped with special electroreceptors called Ampullae of Lorenzini.
It has been observed, that this receptor is able to detect pressure, touch, salinity, temperature, electric and magnetic fields. The latest research indicates that ampullae of Lorenzini aids the sharks with sensing geomagnetic information, giving the fish ability to determine its location and help with navigation.
Snout of these sharks gets shorter in relation to body length as the animal grows.
When catching prey, goblin sharks can protrude their jaws almost to the end of the snout. Usually though, their jaw stays at a natural position aligned with the underside of the head.
Although it is a shark and shares many anatomical features with them, the goblin shark is characterized by a few different features.
They have short and rounded fins, anal and pectoral fins are larger than the dorsal fins. The caudal fin is heterocercal, with a significantly larger upper lobe and lacking a middle lobe. Heterocercal fin is an asymmetrical type, where the upper lobe is bigger than the lower one. Such a fin is characteristic for the phylogenetically oldest fish.
Goblin shark's body is adapted to slow movement.
Unlike many other sharks, the goblin shark has a rather slack and slender body and weak, poorly calcified skeleton. As their anatomy is not suitable for long pursuits after prey, they attack from an ambush. As soon as the shark gets close enough to prey, it catches it by mowing its jaw forward.
It is very little known about goblin shark reproduction.
According to the book The Sharks of North America. by Jose I. Castro they are almost certainly ovoviviparous. A small number of fetuses develop in the mother's body, where they feed on unfertilized eggs. At birth, baby goblin sharks are at least 82 cm long.
They are solitary creatures, that behavioral features are yet to be examined.
Research of those fish has to be made in ocean waters as no individual survived in captivity for more than a week.
Adult individuals feed on bottom-dwelling organisms, while juvenile ones prey on mid-water animals.
Among creatures found in their stomach are cephalopods, crustaceans, grenadiers and dragonfish.
Goblin sharks are unintentionally caught as bycatch.
They sometimes appear in fishnets and in this case are usually dried, salted and delivered to the market in that form. Bycatch is very rare and it is most common in southern Japan, where about 30 individuals, mostly juveniles, are caught in nets each year.
After death, skin color quickly turns dull brown or grey.
Their jaws are sought after by collectors who pay a good price for them because of their uniqueness.
Because of their protruding jaws, many encountered specimens were classified as different species.
Despite their rarity, goblin sharks are not endangered.
IUCN classifies those fish as a least concern (LC). Because they are bottom-dwelling creatures, the probability of catching such organisms is relatively low. Is one of the few shark species affected only very slightly by human activity.
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