Pregnant megamouth shark recorded for the first time by Filipino zoologists
MANILA, Philippines — Filipino zoologists have recorded a pregnant megamouth shark for the first time ever since the rare aquatic specie was discovered in 1974.
A megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) was found dead in Barangay Ipil in Aurora’s Dipaculao municipality last Nov. 14, the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) announced on Friday.
The shark was 5.6 meters long and pregnant with seven pups.
Dr. Princess Ann Tayag, Vet II of the Fisheries and Quarantine Unit of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, conducted the necropsy for the female shark and one of its pups with the supervision of Dr. AA Yaptinchay of Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines (MWWP) via video call from Manila.
Meanwhile, the remaining six megamouth shark pups were transported to the NMP for further detailed examination and processing.
The examination was led by Dr. Yaptinchay and Elson Aca, both from MWWP and the Philippine Aquatic Red List Committee (PARLC), with the assistance of the staff from NMP-Zoology Division and volunteers from MWWP and Beterinaryo sa Fort Animal Clinic.
The specimens will be preserved for further research and study and be part of NMP’s reference collections and future exhibitions.
The elusive shark with a massive mouth — hence its name — could weigh up to 1,215 kilograms, according to Oceana, a nonprofit ocean conservation organization.
Despite its massive size, the megamouth shark is the smallest of the 3 species of filter-feeding sharks which include the whale and basking sharks.
“It is likely naturally very rare, but scientists do not believe that they have sufficient knowledge of this species to determine its conservation status,” Oceana said on its website.