More than 1,500 people gathered outside the Marine Science Museum in Shizuoka, Japan last week to see a necropsy on a rare megamouth shark. According to WPTV, the fish was caught last month at a depth of about 2,600 feet. It is not known how the shark was captured.
Experts said it marked a rare opportunity for a megamouth shark to be extensively stuided. There have only been 58 previous sightings of the species since it was discovered in 1976, and only three have been filmed.
Megamouth sharks are the smallest of the three species of plankton-eating sharks. Its most noticeable feature is its large, bulbous head and wide mouth. These sharks are believed to behave much like whale sharks and spend their time swimming with their mouths open to trap prey. Despite being smaller than the whale shark, megamouths can grow up to 18 feet long and weigh close to 3,000 pounds. The Japan Daily Press reported that the specimen captured last month measured 13 feet and over 1,500 pounds.
The species was first discovered when a US Navy ship off the coast of Kaneohe, Hawaii pulled in a megamouth shark along with its anchor. Two larger variants of the megamouth are believed to be extinct.
As curious onlookers watched, museum staff dissected the fish and removed its internal organs. You can watch a video of that below.