On September 12, a fisherman who calls himself Trapman Bermagui posted on Facebook a photograph of a very strange shark he had caught. The specimen has amazing bulging eyes and teeth that look human , but are also reminiscent of false teeth . The shark was caught about 650 meters deep in the waters of New South Wales, in Australia.
As expected, the shark’s unusual features caught the attention of Facebook users, who made various comments, many alluding to the shark’s peculiar teeth, which could well be false teeth.
In addition to making more or less humorous comments, users speculated about the species to which the specimen would belong. The most widely shared opinion was that it was a member of Isistius brasiliensis , also known as the cigar shark . This animal is small, barely 50 centimeters long, but it has such large and sharp teeth that they are capable of tearing off pieces of meat from animals with thick skin such as whales, other sharks or dolphins. They do not eat their victims, but leave rather conspicuous circular marks on them. Others wondered if it could be a goblin shark ( Mitsukurina owstoni ) or a species of lantern shark ( Etmopteridae ).
The fisherman, however, does not agree with these comments and affirms that it is not a cigar shark but a short-finned gulper shark ( Centrophorus moluccensis ), a species of dogfish, a group of deep-sea sharks found all over the world. Some shark experts are unconvinced by the fisherman’s claim.
“It looks to me like it’s a deep-sea shark ( Dalatias licha ), which is known from Australian waters,” Christopher Lowe, director of the California State University Long Beach Shark Laboratory, told Newsweek . “Although it is difficult to be sure without being able to see the entire specimen,” he added.
Dean Grubbs, a marine biologist and shark expert at Florida State University, offered a different conclusion. In his opinion we are dealing with a Centroscymnus owstonii , a type of sleeper shark from the same family as the Greenland sharks ( Somniosus microcephalus ).
Christopher Lowe also considered the possibility that the specimen with the terrifying teeth is actually a new species.
Other experts, however, agree with the Australian fisherman and believe that it is a quelvacho. Brit Finucci, a fisheries scientist at New Zealand’s National Institute of Aquatic and Atmospheric Research, who specializes in deep-sea sharks, defends this position. However, in statements to Live Science , he said that he could not say the species to which it belongs.
Charlie Huveneers, a shark scientist at Australia’s Flinders University, told Live Science that he agreed with Finucci’s identification and that the animal was most likely a screw shark.
Quelvachos were once one of the main targets of New South Wales fisheries for their liver oil. These are animals that are highly threatened by overfishing (they also have a very slow development) and are protected in Australia.