In a heartbreaking finding near Barangay Ipil, Dipaculao Aurora, a megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) tragically perished while attempting to give birth. Its death's circumstances are still unknown, which emphasizes the mysteries surrounding these animals.
"The most remarkable new shark discovery of the late 20th century is thought to be the megamouth shark. Prominent ichthyologist and shark scientist Dr. David Ebert explains that the discovery of such a large shark, reaching over 8 m TL, represented not only a new genus but an entirely new shark family. Ebert is renowned for his knowledge of ecology, conservation, and shark taxonomy.
His extensive work on the systematics of Chondrichthyans and his descriptions of several new species of sharks have improved our understanding of the diversity within this group of cartilaginous fishes. "Since the initial and exclusive capture off Hawaii, additional areas have emerged as hotspots for this mysterious shark; these include southern California, the Philippines, Japan, and Taiwan."
The deepsea shark is recognized for its unique characteristics, including a bulbous head with a generously sized mouth and a rounded snout. The slow-moving and non-aggressive nature of the megamouth shark belies its formidable appearance. It swims like a filter feeder, sifting tiny plankton out of the water. Megamouth shark encounters are rare due to their solitary and slow movements, coupled with their preference for deep waters.
The fact that they are found in isolated and understudied oceanic locations also adds to the dearth of available scientific data. The study of these sharks has historically been hindered by technological limitations because it is difficult to access their habitats using traditional research methods.
That's why scientists were so delighted with this recent discovery. With a length of 16.4 feet (5 meters) and a width of 3.3 feet (1 meter), the mother megamouth shark that washed up on the shores of Dipaculao Aurora in the Philippines was estimated to weigh 882 pounds (400 kilograms). The discovery quickly took on a bittersweet twist, though, as it turned out the megamouth shark was about to give birth.
First known sighting of a megamouth shark in pregnancy... How thrilling!"It's official," Ebert wrote on Facebook, announcing the news that digital artist Annabelle Lapitn, who shared the pictures and information about the megamouth sharks with permission from photographer Joan Edillo, had posted. Each infant, referred to as "pups," was described in the post as being about 5.5 feet (1.7 meters) long, 12 inches wide, and weighing about 88 pounds (40 kgs).
"The discovery of a pregnant female shark recently sheds new light on this enigmatic shark. With the release of this first pregnancy record, some long-standing mysteries will start to be resolved, like how many puppies are born in a litter. When do females reach maturity? These sharks give birth where? And where are these sharks' breeding grounds?"