Rare Goblin Shark Caught by Australian Fishermen

   02.04.15

The goblin shark is a strong contender for the most bizarre-looking fish in the world, especially with its flabby body, almost-vestigial fins, and characteristic elongated nose. Though goblin sharks are also one of the rarest shark species in existence, fishermen off the eastern coast of Australia found one of the uncommon critters dead in their nets last week.

“I wasn’t [freaked out], if anything I was pretty excited. I’ve seen photos of them before but I’ve never seen one before,” Lochlainn Kelly told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Lochlainn Kelly discovered the fish while trawling with his father southeast of Gabo Island last Thursday. The fishermen decided to bring the nearly four-foot shark to local experts, who speculated that strange currents in the area may have accounted for more of these sharks being caught. Last May, a shrimp fisherman in Florida also caught a goblin shark, and he was able to release that fish alive. Goblin sharks are suspected to be much more common near Australia than in North American waters, and Mike Kelly said that it is not the first he had ever caught.

“I’ve caught them before, probably about 12 in my career but this was only a small one,” he told Merimbula News Weekly. “Normally though you expect to find them in 3,000 [to] 4,000 feet of water.”

Scientists know relatively little about goblin sharks and there have been few opportunities for researchers to observe the fish alive and in its natural habitat. These strange-looking creatures can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh up to 500 pounds, yet feed mainly on fish such as rattails. Due to its shape, experts say that goblin shark is a weak swimmer for its size. Perhaps the most notable feature of the shark, is its ability to extend its jaws forward to capture prey. You can see an example of this in the video below:

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