An Ocean Full of Secrets
When it comes to the deep blue sea, one could say it’s an ocean filled with secrets. Each and every year, rare and exciting discoveries are made in the ocean’s depths, revealing we may not know as much as we thought about our world.
For one fisherman, it was supposed to be another day out on the water catching shrimp; however, what surfaced was much more terrifying than he could have ever imagined.
A Typical Day Out
It was just a typical day shrimp fishing for Captain Carl Moore. Spring had finally come to Key West, Florida and the sun was shining brightly as a cool sea breeze blew across the deck.
Unfortunately, something strange and deadly was lurking deep in the fathoms below…
Fishing for Captain Moore was second nature. Life had no meaning unless he was out on the water catching shrimp. And after decades on the water, it was on April 19, 2014, that Moore caught something he had never seen before in his life.
You won’t believe the terrifying creature that Moore brought up in his nets.
The Terror from Below
Fishing roughly 10 miles off of Key West, Moore was pulling up his shrimp nets when he realized it was much heavier than usual. As the net breached the surface, he realized something large and VERY angry was thrashing inside the net.
Let’s just say…it wasn’t a supersized shrimp…
The Sea Monster on Deck
Captain Moore quickly released the net, dumping its contents on the deck. At first, he couldn’t understand what he was seeing. The creature looked like a shark but had a monstrous snout, strange razor-sharp teeth, and an odd, frilly fin.
What Is It?
“When it came up, I didn’t know what it was,” Moore told NBC News. “I didn’t measure him because his head was slashing around, and he had some mean-looking teeth and I didn’t want to get caught up in those.”
A Bite Away from Tragedy
Curiosity took over the Captain and he managed to get closer to the strange creature. He was shocked by its ugly appearance as if a shark had somehow deflated and become a saggy shell. Its teeth were protruding out of a terrifying-looking jaw as well.
Unfortunately, the Moore took one step too close.
The creature quickly thrashed around, violently snapping its jaws at the fisherman. Moore jumped back and out of its way, realizing this predator meant business. There was no way he would keep it, so he knew there was only one thing to do.
A Few Photos for Evidence
Not wanting to take any chances, Captain Moore snapped a few photos of the sharp-toothed monster and then decided to toss it back in the sea. Carefully, he utilized a crane to hoist the creature up and over the railing back into the ocean.
A Terrifying Truth
After the creature disappeared back into the depths, Moore headed back into port. He quickly reported his findings to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Institute (NOAA).
After viewing the photographs, they knew exactly what the things was.
A Rare Find
“This is a very rare finding,” John Karlson, a research biologist at NOAA, told NBC News. “We don’t know very much about these animals.”
So, what was the mysterious monster of the deep?
The Mystery of the Goblin Shark
…A Goblin Shark. Yep, you read that right, this strange terrifying creature is a unique shark that is rarely photographed due to its limited numbers. While the shark has been found before in the Pacific off the coasts of Japan and California, it usually remains in deeper water at roughly 5,000 feet.
How did it possibly wind up in Florida?
125 Million Years of Evolution
Considered to be a threatened species of shark due to its low numbers, the goblin shark comes from a family that’s over 125 million years old. Only growing to 10-13ft in length, this shark is defined by its elongated snout and protruding jaw. It also has a flabby body and small fins, which has researchers believing it is quite sluggish in the water.
Deep Beneath the Abyss
Goblin sharks are rarely seen on the surface due to their habitats being located 5,000 feet down or more. According to marine biologists, the goblin shark tends to stick to continental slopes and submarine canyons off the coast of Japan. While the Pacific Ocean tends to be a more popular area for sightings, there have been goblin sharks caught in all of the major oceans.
Lack of Information
Unfortunately, observations of living goblin sharks are few and far between. However, what we do know is the shark’s anatomy suggests a slow and inactive lifestyle. The skeleton is poorly calcified and the muscles on its sides weak and underdeveloped. Based on its soft and saggy tail, it is believed the goblin shark doesn’t move much and would not be considered an apex predator.
Despite the goblin shark being traced back millions of years, very little is known about it or its reproduction cycle. This is due to the fact no one has ever discovered a pregnant female. This has left large gaps in the data available, especially when it comes to growth and aging.
Not a Threat
Despite Captain Moore’s encounter, the goblin shark is not considered a threat to humans. Although the occasional shark has been caught or wound up in fisheries, most of the time they spend their days deep below the ocean’s surface.
Can’t Survive in Captivity
Over the past few decades, there have been several attempts to keep a goblin shark in captivity. One survived for a week in an aquarium at Tokai University, and another only lived for two days at the Tokyo Sea Life Park. Sadly, neither of these instances provided adequate time to study the shark.
Goblin Shark Mass Phenomenon
After years of being elusive, in April 2003 over a hundred goblin sharks were caught off the coast of Taiwan, the most that have ever been found together. While it’s unknown what displaced the sharks, it’s believed a massive earthquake could have contributed to their mass appearance.
Today, the goblin shark is not a target for fisheries due to minimal economic significance. While the meat is sometimes dried and salted, the jaws of this shark can bring a very high price on the collector’s market.
It’s amazing what can be found in the depths of our oceans, right? And there’s still so much to uncover.