Pictures of the ‘living fossil’ courtesy of Awashima Marine Park in Japan
A rare frilled shark was captured live by fishermen off the coast of Japan. The toothy eel-like creature was taken to Awashima Marine Park in Shizuoka where it later died, according to Reuters.
The 5-foot (1.6 meter) long beast was believed to be ill because it was found in shallow waters. Generally the species, known as Chlamydoselachus anguineus, lives at a depth of 488-4550 feet (150-1400 m) in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
“We believe moving pictures of a live specimen are extremely rare,” Reuters quoted an official at the park as saying. “They live between 600 and 1000 meters under the water, which is deeper than humans can go. We think it may have come close to the surface because it was sick, or else it was weakened because it was in shallow waters.”
The frilled shark is considered a primitive shark, largely unchanged since prehistoric times. The species’ unusual appearance has led some to suggest that it could be a source for sea serpent sightings.
Frilled sharks are occasionally captured as bycatch, but they are not targeted commercially. Nonetheless, the IUCN considers the species “near threatened” due to its slow reproductive rate — its gestation period is thought to be up to 42 months — and expansion of industrial deep-water fishing.
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