Megamouth shark - Megachasma pelagios
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
This shark has an unmistakable large, long head with a short, rounded snout. It has a huge terminal mouth extending behind its eyes.
The body is grey on the top (light margins to blackish pectoral and pelvic fins), and white below with dark spotting on the lower jaw.
Males begin to mature at about 13.1 ft [400 cm] while females mature at about 16.4 ft [500 cm]. Its maximum length may be more than 18 ft [550 cm].
Numerous small, hooked teeth.
Oceanic, coastal and offshore, 16.4 to 131.2 ft [5 to 40 m] on continental shelf, 26.2 to 544.6 ft [8 to 166 m] offshore over very deep water.
Probably world-wide in the tropics (not many records).
Prey – Feeds on plankton, particularly shrimp, possibly by suction.
Reproduction – Unknown, but presumed viviparous with oophagy.
Probably migrates vertically with plankton, close to the surface at night, and deeper by day. May have luminescent tissue inside its mouth to attract prey.
This species was first discovered in 1976, and has been rarely recorded since that time.