01/03/2024

The Gᴏʙʟɪɴ Shark

The Gᴏʙʟɪɴ Shark

   The Gᴏʙʟɪɴ shark is a ʀᴀʀᴇʟʏ seen, deep-sea shark that was discovered at the end of the 19th century. Sometimes called a “living fossil”, it is the only existing member of the family Mitsukurinidae. This shark may actually hold the award for the most distinctive appearance ever with its pink skin, flattened sword-like snout, 31 to 62 rows of nail-like teeth, and elongated body. Its blood vessels are close to the skin giving it a pink coloration. It has a flabby body, two small rounded dorsal fins, short and wide pectoral fins, five pairs of gill slits, one anal fin smaller than the dorsal fin, and a caudal fin with a poorly developed lower lobe.

A research team, led by Emeritus Professor Kazuhiro Nakaya of Japan’s Hokkaido University, analyzed world-first footage ᴄᴀᴘᴛᴜʀᴇᴅ by public broadcaster NHK in which two Gᴏʙʟɪɴ sharks separately ᴄᴀᴘᴛᴜʀᴇᴅ ᴘʀᴇʏ on a total of five occasions. The research has unraveled a century-old mystery surrounding how the deep-sea shark utilizes its protruding jaws, among other factors, to feed itself. The Gᴏʙʟɪɴ shark (Mitsukurina owstoni) was first discovered in deep waters off Japan in 1898. The ʙɪᴛɪɴɢ process, named “slingshot feeding” by the researchers, involved the projection of the jaws at speeds of up to 3.1 meters per second–the fastest speed recorded for a fish–over distances comparable to 8.6-9.4 percent of the total length of the shark’s body, far outranking the jaw protrusion of other kinds of shark. The researchers also newly discovered that the sharks opened and closed their mouths again during jaw-retraction, for unknown reasons.

The researchers concluded that the shark, which has a slow swimming speed, has evolved to adapt to deep-sea environments where food is scarce, possibly compensating for its slow swimming speed. Known as Mitsukuri sharks in Japan, Gᴏʙʟɪɴ sharks are so called in Western nations due to their somewhat alarming appearance. Until now, few details were known about the species. The new findings on once shallow-water-dwelling sharks are likely to have a strong impact on future studies relating to how fish adapt to deep-sea environments.

Another method of finding food is to move the sediment at the bottom of the ocean once it senses something is hiding beneath it. Its long snout is perfect for this purpose. Since it is ʀᴀʀᴇʟʏ seen or ᴄᴀᴘᴛᴜʀᴇᴅ, the Gᴏʙʟɪɴ shark status in the IUCN is “Minor Concern.”

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