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Rare 'alien' megamouth shark caught, dissected before 1,500 spectators

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Another rare shark, the megamouth, has been caught, this time off the coast of Japan. And to give an indication as to how rare the strange-looking megamouth shark actually is, it has been sighted only 58 times since the first of its species was discovered in 1976.

Takepart.com reported (via Yahoo News) May 8 that the latest megamouth shark (so called because of its large head and its correspondingly large mouth), which has a distinctive look due to its rubbery lips, was actually captured last month, brought ashore at Japan's Yui seaport. The specimen measured 15 feet long (the average adult megamouth shark grows to nearly 17 feet).

According to ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research, which hosts a marine biology website, the megamouth is one of only three known planktovirous sharks inhabiting the ocean. These filter-feeding fish include the basking shark and the whale shark. They feed off of plankton, krill, and jellyfish.

The megamouth's only known predator is the sperm whale.

One reason the shark is so rarely seen is because of its deepwater nature. The 1,500-pound fish generally cruises at depths of 2,600 feet.

During Shark Week 2013 on Discovery Channel the megamouth shark was featured in a documentary, "Alien Monster Sharks." Special attention was given its "alien" physiology, of course.

Hoping to learn a little more about the megamouth shark, the Marine Science Museum in Shizuoka City took advantage of the landed deepwater beast, dissecting the big fish Tuesday in front of 1,500 spectators. The carcass was then moved and put on display at the museum.

News of the captured megamouth comes just a week after the report that a Goblin shark, another rarely seen shark, was caught in a shrimper's net off the Florida Keys.

And in mid-April, a man land-fishing on the Florida panhandle coast caught a record-breaking 805-pound mako shark. Although makos aren't that rare, catching one so large, not to mention so near the coast (makos are also deepwater sharks), most certainly is a rare event.

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