The goblin shark is definitely not known for its beautiful appearance. In fact, it has the misfortune of being labeled as the “ugliest living shark.” Some say it looks more like a creature from outer space than a shark living on this planet.
Its scientific name, Mitsukurinaowstoni, is in recognition of the two scientists who helped discover it in the late 19th century. It is also known as the elfin shark, gnome shark, and even the demon shark in different parts of the world.
Not a lot is known about the interaction between goblin sharks and people. The goblin shark is considered to be one of the rarest species or types of shark. Although not considered dangerous to humans, the goblin shark could pose a threat due to its large size. At this time, scientists say humans do not have anything to fear from the goblin shark.
The goblin shark is a bottom-dwelling shark, rarely seen on the surface or in shallow waters. However, its population is considered to have a wide range of geographic areas in which it is found.
The goblin shark is a rather large species of shark, with average lengths reported as 8 to 12 feet. The largest recorded specimen was 12.6 feet and weighed 436 pounds, as heavy as taking 30 bowling balls and combining their weights!
The goblin shark’s appearance is quite unique. When a person thinks of a shark, usually the color that most often comes to mind is gray. However, the goblin shark is a pinkish-white color with blueish fins. There have even been documented sightings of goblin sharks that are bubble gum pink!
Besides having rounded fins, the goblin shark’s snout, or nose, is its most distinguishable feature. The long, flat nose cannot be missed!
The jaws of a goblin shark are also hard to miss and feature long, narrow teeth. The upper jaw has 26 pearly whites, while the lower jaw has 24 teeth.
Since the goblin shark is so rare, there are still a lot of scientists who do not know about it. The shape of the teeth makes scientists believe soft body prey, such as shrimp, octopus, fish, and squid, are primary food targets.
One of the unique adaptations of the goblin shark is its ability to launch its jaw! The goblin shark is considered to be slow-moving, but it makes up for its lack of speed with this special ability.
If prey lurks just out of its reach and the goblin shark knows it is not fast enough to catch it, all it has to do is use its jaw as a type of grasping claw to grab the unsuspecting prey. Its top and bottom teeth are attached to special stretchy ligaments or bands of tissue. When the goblin shark is ready to attack, it launches its jaws out to capture the prey. This is a jaw-dropping ability ~ literally!
This is another area where facts are lacking. Goblin sharks are believed to be ovoviviparous, with baby goblin sharks, or pups, starting life as eggs, hatching inside the mother, and then being born live. However, this theory has not been scientifically proven. Because no expectant female goblin shark has ever been captured, there is no data on how long babies are carried or how many pups are delivered in a litter.
Goblin sharks are not fished commercially. They are caught mistakenly by fishermen. Due to their bizarre appearance, there is also interest in putting them on exhibition, or display, at aquariums. So far, this desire has been unsuccessful.
The goblin shark is considered to be a common type of shark but is rarely seen. Because of the lack of information on its population size, it is currently listed as a species of Least Concern.
- The goblin shark’s skin is practically translucent and allows some light to pass through it. Its pink color is due to the red blood vessels found underneath the skin!
- Since the goblin shark spends so much time in the depths of the ocean, it is thought to have poor eyesight. To “see,” the goblin shark uses its snout, which possesses special electroreceptors called the ampullae of Lorenzini, to detect electrical pulses put off by creatures. The goblin shark can detect when other sea creatures are about without actually seeing them!