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January 30, 2007

Jurassic Shark

If you’re thinking this looks like a creature from the deep, well…it is.

Last week a frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus), a primitive shark species, was caught in shallow water near Japan’s Awashima Marine Park.  Hoping to learn more about this elusive animal, park researchers were able to capture rare live footage of the shark before she died in captivity.

The frilled shark, named for its gill tissue extending beyond the gill slits, normally lives at depths of 600 to 1000 meters (1968 to 3280 feet).  Bearing more resemblance to an eel, this six-gilled shark feeds on squid, bony deepwater fish and other sharks.  Their distribution is worldwide–NOAA filmed some off the southeastern coast of the US— but they are rarely seen alive or in such shallow water.  

Although there is no targeted fishing of frilled sharks, they are considered “near threatened” by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) due to incidental catch in trawl nets and on hooks.

Photo courtesy of Awashima Marine Park, Japan www.marinepark.jp