Megachasma pelagios

Order: Lamniformes

The Megamouth shark is one of the most rare and most mysterious members of the shark family. Only 22 specimens have ever been reported since it was first captured and described in 1976 and many details of its life are as yet unknown.

Megamouths are the third known species of planktonivorous shark, alongside the whale shark and basking shark. To date, the largest known specimen measured 5.63 metres, an indication that, like its fellow planktivores, it is capable of growing to great sizes. The most distinguishing feature of the Megamouth is, as its name suggests, its huge and oddly shaped mouth. Closely related to both white sharks and Mako Sharks, the Megamouth appears to be similarly wide-ranging. It has been caught off the coasts of Senegal, South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and especially California and Japan, where several specimens have been discovered and which may be breeding grounds for this enigmatic creature.

Megamouths seem to feed near the surface at night and retreat to the depths during the day. They appear to be slow moving and much less than the basking shark and it has been observed under attack from sperm whales.

Maximum size: 5.6 metres

Distribution: Uncertain, but known to be present in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.

Diet: Plankton, especially small shrimps and jellyfish.

Reproduction: Uncertain, but probably ovoviviparous.