CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines— A megamouth shark with multiple wounds on its body was caught by fishermen in the nearby shore of Barangay Cugman in Cagayan de Oro City, Monday morning.
Animal bone enthusiast and expert Darrell Blatchley, American curator and owner of D’ Bone Collector Museum in Davao City, told Sun Star Cagayan de Oro at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in northern Mindanao (BFAR-10) office Tuesday that the megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) is one of the rarest fishes in the world.
“In my 20 years as a collector, I have seen various species of dolphins and whales. This is my first time seeing this kind of shark. It was strange. So lucky to have seen a megamouth shark in [the] flesh,” he said.
It is “one of the most mysterious and least understood of all the sharks,” according to wildlife conservation site ARKive. It is believed to be the 59th species of the megamouth shark seen by humans.
Rey Eduardo Hojas, officer-in-charge of Fish Health Laboratory at BFAR-10, affirmed that the shark is a female filter feeder mammal that eats plankton and jellyfish.
“I cannot identify the possible reason why the shark came near the shore. When sharks are ailing they usually take shelter near the shore. This is not the surest reason but this has been the trend,” Hojas told the Sun Star.
A circular scar was found at her caudal fin which Blatchley believed is a mark of a shark’s teeth. However, he dismissed possibilities of this scar as the primary cause of her death.
The age of the shark cannot be identified since the reproduction of the species remains unknown to science.
Due to the lack of information concerning population status, the megamouth is considered “data deficient” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Citing information from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the report said the shark was 18 feet long and 12 feet wide, and weighed 400 to 500 kilos.
“The shark was already feeble when I caught it,” according to the fisherman who fortunately caught the said shark.
Moreover, BFAR is still confirming the cause of the shark’s death. It is also helping barangay officials in arranging for the shark’s burial.
On the other hand, the BFAR stressed residents cannot eat the meat of the megamouth shark, which is considered a rare species known for its distinctively large mouth, which it uses for filter feeding.
-JEFFREY D. CONSULTADO
LNU, ABCOM INTERN