The megamouth shark was first discovered in 1976 by a U.S navy vessel. As the mouth of the shark is so big, it was named – The Megamouth Shark.
The scientific name of the megamouth shark is ‘Megachasma pelagios’. It almost took 8 years for the shark to get its scientific name which means – The Great Open Mouth Of The Sea. This deepwater shark is the sole member of its genus, Megachasma. Megamouth sharks are one category of filter-feeder shark species.
What Are Filter-Feeder Sharks?
In General, Filter Sharks are those who have huge mouths. They differ from other sharks by their teeth alignment. Rather than having large sharp teeth like other shark species, filter sharks are relatively toothless.
Types Of Filter-Feeder Sharks :
Filter sharks are classified into three types, as follows.
- The Whale Shark.
- The Basking Shark.
- The Megamouth Shark.
About The Megamouth:
The megamouth sharks are the smallest among the three filter-feeding shark species These sharks are very peculiar looking with a rounded snout and a very large mouth, its body tapers back to a moderate caudal fin with a heavier top lobe. It is dark gray-brown on the top and has a light gray-white underbelly. They have two dorsal fins that are relatively smaller when compared to basking and whale sharks and their mouth opens past their eyes. Megamouth sharks grow up to a length of about 17 feet (approx).
What Do Megamouths Eat:
Megamouth sharks are Zooplantonik, which means they mostly feed upon tiny particles like plankton, krill, jellyfish, shrimp, and cope ponds. As the megamouth sharks are filter-feeders, they don’t have terrifying teeth and they seem to be toothless. They rather have gill rakers which are structures that act as a sieve for gathering small planktons. They take in a huge gulp of seawater containing plankton and push the water out of them leaving the plankton behind to be consumed. Hence they have a large gaping mouth to take in as large amounts of food-filled water as possible.
Where Do Megamouths Sharks Live:
Megamouth sharks live deep inside the oceans. They stay in the shallow waters during the daytime and go deep down, near the ocean beds after the sunsets. In other words, it can also be said that these sharks follow the currents of the planktons and change their depths depending upon the day-night cycle.
It is found that megamouth sharks are found all over the world’s oceans and there is no accurate location in particular to spot their existence. Megamouth sharks live in the tropical and temperate waters and are commonly spotted in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Interesting Facts On Megamouths:
- Megamouth sharks are the smallest among other filter-feeding sharks.
- These sharks can breathe while standing still.
- They aren’t really quick swimmers.
- Megamouth sharks have a white luminous or reflective surface in their upper jaw that is visible only when their mouth is open.
- This luminous strip is either said to act as a lure for the prey or help megamouths to recognize each other. However, these statements remain as theories and they are yet to be proved.
- They have big squishy bodies.
- Megamouth sharks are so soft even their fins are flexible.
- These sharks make an easy target to the cookie-cutter sharks.
- The parasitic cookie-cutter sharks easily catch up to the slow-moving megamouths and tear off bits of their soft flesh.
- The reproductive cycle of megamouth sharks is still not clear as there is no evidence of any pregnant megamouth encounters.