Lucky Shrimper Gets a Glimpse of the Grotesque Goblin Shark
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so says shark expert John Carlson. “Some would call them ugly,” he told CNN. “I think interesting.”
He’s referring to the goblin shark caught by shrimper Carl Moore off the coast of Key West, Fla. Moore, who slogs away at sea about 300 days of the year, found the 18- to 20-foot-long wonder on a shrimping trip last month.
Goblin sharks are deep-ocean dwellers, and most sightings have been recorded in Japan. According to Carlson, Moore made a significant find.
“We don’t know a lot about deepwater fauna,” said Carlson, a research biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “We know little about goblin sharks—how long they live, how fast they grow.” This, however, we can assume: With long, needle-like teeth that work like grasping claws, the animal has few natural predators.
Moore has been working in the Atlantic Ocean for five decades and has seen a lot of odd creatures, such as sawfish and turtles that weigh at least half a ton. Still, when the goblin shark plopped from the net among his catch, the shrimper was flabbergasted: “First thing I told them boys was ‘Man, he’s ugly! Looks prehistoric to me.’ ”
Moore said he had no intention of taking the shark home for dinner or as a trophy, but he at least wanted evidence of his rare find. He’s been bringing a camera on his expeditions to share pictures with his three-year-old grandson. So he captured a quick photo before releasing shark the back to the ocean.
“Anything that’s alive we try to put back in the ocean,” Moore said. Also, the massive shark didn’t look friendly. “I was going to take the tape measure; then he flashed around again. I said, ‘Forget the measurement. That thing’ll eat me up!’ ”
The last sighting of the species was recorded in 2000. It’s not threatened or endangered, but scientists such as Carlson are excited to study the elusive shark. He’s planning to submit a paper on the new sighting to a scientific journal.