According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service, a commercial shrimping trawler netted an extremely rare goblin shark off of the Florida Keys on Wednesday, the second specimen ever to be recorded in the Gulf of Mexico. The fish was roughly 18 feet long, and leisurely swam away after being released. The first goblin shark sighting in the region occurred nearly 15 years ago when commercial fisherman captured one in 2000.
The pink-skinned, prehistoric-looking goblin shark is a deep-water, poorly understood species, and is the only living representative of the family Mitsukurinidae, an ancient lineage some 125 million years old.
The goblin shark possesses a distinctive, flattened snout, and highly protrusible jaws which feature nail-like teeth. The sharks inhabit upper continental slopes, submarine canyons and seamounts worldwide, at depths greater than 300 feet, with adults swimming deeper than juveniles.
Below is a clip of a goblin shark attack:
Rare goblin shark snagged by fisherman off Florida waters http://t.co/t08ShiwFLf pic.twitter.com/LfUin53Ylt
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 3, 2014
The goblin shark has been recorded in all three major oceans, and has many names, for such a rare fish – it is referred to as an elfin shark (English ), hiisihai (Finnish), Japanese neushaai (Dutch), Japanischer nasenhai (German), kabouterhaai (Dutch and Afrikaans), karsahai (Finnish), Koboldhaai ( Dutch), koboldhai (German), lensuháfur (Icelandic), mitsukurizame ( Japanese), naesehaj (Danish), Nasenhai (German), näshaj (Swedish), nesehai (Norwegian), neushaai (Dutch), requin lutin (French), schoffelneushaai (Dutch), squalo folletto (Dutch), squalo goblin ( Italian), teguzame (Japanese), teppichhai (German), tiburón duende (Spanish), trollhaj (Swedish), tubarão-demónio (Portuguese), tubarão-gnomo (Portuguese), zoozame (Japanese) and žralok škriatok (Czech).
Though observations of goblin sharks existing in the wild are limited, it is suggested that the animal leads a sluggish lifestyle, mostly feeding on rattail fish and dragonfishes. It also consumes cephalopods and crustaceans, including decapods and isopods. Garbage has been found in the stomachs of some specimens.
The NOAA points out that biologists encourage anyone who comes across a goblin shark to report these rare sightings and catches, as the information that can be collected is integral to forming a better knowledge of the species.
Image via YouTube