Goblin Sharks Are Ocean Floor Dwellers

Douglas Pilarski

Marine Biologists Are Unsure Of How Many Exist

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The Elusive Goblin SharkPhoto via Pinterest

The first time I laid eyes on a picture of a Goblin shark, I thought it looked like a pinata from an underwater horror movie. It didn’t look real to me. I learned after some research, it does exist as pictured. I learned that it is a rare shark with origins reaching back millions of years.

Goblin Sharks live in deep water off the coast of Japan and the Pacific Ocean from California to Australia. They are also found in the Gulf of Mexico. Goblin Sharks are also known as Elfin Sharks.

According to Smithsonian Ocean, (ocean.si.edu) the goblin shark has a long, prominent snout covered with special sensing organs (ampullae of Lorenzini) that help it to sense electric fields in the deep, dark water it calls home. In Japan, the shark is known by the name Mistukurina owstoni. Wikipedia mentions that Mitsukuri was a Zoologist at University of Tokyo in the mid 1800s.

No one knows how many Goblin Sharks exist today since they are not spotted often. Because of this, they do not appear on a protected species list. Surprisingly, there are a good number of photographs of the elusive deepwater denizen. Goblin sharks have been spotted only about 50 times since being discovered in the late 1890s. Marine biologists say they are unsure of their numbers according to accounts on animaldiversity.org.

Oceania.org reports that the species lives in the dark at depths below 1300 meters most of the time and comes nearer to the surface at night. Most of what we have learned about the goblin results from accidental capture in fishing nets. The goblin shark is rarely filmed.

Oceans teem with odd-looking fish species, and the Goblin is no exception. According to kids.nationalgeographic.com, Goblins can grow to twelve feet long and weigh as much as 460 pounds. They can live up to 35 years. Their teeth are connected to their jaw with ligaments that allow the shark to extend its teeth out several inches when feeding on squid and shellfish.

The Goblin Shark has a long, flattened snout with flabby skin. Their fins take on a blue, grey, and pink hue. The shark’s transparent skin and blood vessels give the shark a bizarre pink color when out of the water. Their teeth do not fit in their mouth.

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Goblin Shark TeethPhoto via Pinterest

This shark most likely finds food by detecting the electrical field given off by its prey. The lower jaw unhinges and juts out in a flash when feeding. Marine biologists call this slingshot feeding. Their diet consists of crustaceans, squid, and bony fish. Goblin sharks are thought to have the fastest lower jaws of all sharks.

Their big eyes capture you, and the long snout made me think of a cartoon character. Whether you can’t get enough of the Goblin shark because of their Halloween costume-like looks, or you’re waiting for one to debut in a Shark Week movie, the Goblin Shark captures you.

Let’s just hope it’s not by the leg.

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Douglas Pilarski is an award-winning writer & journalist based on the west coast. He writes about luxury goods, exotic cars, horology, tech, food, lifestyle, and workplace issues!

Beaverton, OR
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