The shrimper who caught a rare Goblin shark off the Florida Keys this week wasn't at all complimentary when describing the lengthy fish, but he admits to having a great time catching the toothy monster.
"First thing I told them boys was, 'Man, he's ugly! Looks prehistoric to me,'" Carl Moore, 63, of Townsend, Ga., said of his catch. CNN reported May 5 that Moore caught the Goblin shark in the Gulf of Mexico. It was only the second of its species to ever be caught in the Gulf. To highlight just how rare catching one of the pinkish-gray sharks actually is, Moore's haul is the first Goblin shark caught since 2000.
The Goblin shark is a long and lean, toothsome monster that preys on live fish and squid but rarely ascends above depths of 1,000 feet, finding its comfort level extending down to 3,000 feet.
Carl Moore, who has been shrimping the Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean for 50 years, caught the shark on April 19, pulling it aboard in his shrimp nets, the massive Goblin shark spilling out onto his deck with a load of royal red shrimp. When he first saw the beast, the shrimper said there was a feeling of "disbelief."
But not all view the Goblin shark as ugly.
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," shark expert John Carlson, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research biologist, told CNN. "Some would call them 'ugly.' I think, 'interesting.'"
Carlson noted that Moore's catch was an 'important find,' since very little is known about the elusive shark. Still, other than photos Moore took of his prize catch with the only camera he had available (a cell phone), the NOAA will have to rely on word-of-mouth testimony -- even with regard to the shark's length.
"I didn't even know what it was," Moore admitted to the Houston Chronicle. "I didn't get the tape measure out because that thing's got some wicked teeth, they could do some damage."
"I was going to take the tape measure, then he flashed around again," Moore explained to CNN, estimating the shark's length at around 15 feet. "I said, 'Forget the measurement. That thing'll eat me up!'"
Moore let the struggling Goblin shark go, releasing it before its time out of water did it irreparable harm.
Carlson told the Chronicle that scientists were a bit disappointed that they didn't get a chance to study the rare and unique shark. Besides its pinkish coloration, the Goblin shark sports a snout that scientists believe is a sensor organ that helps in catching prey. The snout extends over a row of vicious protruding teeth that are attached to a movable jaw that can quickly snap out and catch its quarry. It is the rack of teeth gives the large shark a terrifying "prehistoric" look. This, in turn, has led to it being described as a living fossil.
"The guys at NOAA said I'm probably one of only 10 people who've seen one of those alive," Moore, who counts the catch as a highlight of his 50-year fishing career, told the Chronicle. But he isn't apologetic about releasing the shark. "I know the value of trying to preserve things."