Scientists Stunned By Rare Sofa Shark In Scottish Waters

Posted: Oct 4 2015, 7:06pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

Scottish Scientists Stunned by Rare Sofa Shark
Courtesy of Scottish Shark Tagging Programme

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The Sofa shark, also known as the false catshark, was discovered in the waters off the west coast of Scotland.

Marine biologists stumbled upon an extremely rare species of shark while conducting a deep sea survey. The shark was caught off the west coast of Scotland near the remote island of St Kilda and it is absolutely one of a kind.

The shark has unique narrow feline eyes, a broad head and mouth and a short, rounded body. It has been given various names, which are all as unique as the shark itself. Mostly, it is known as “false catshark” due to its resemblance with the small bottom-dwelling shark while some also refer it as “sofa shark.” Its features are also similar to “blobfish” which is recently crowned as the ugliest animal in the world.

This unusual looking shark rarely surfaces. In fact, scientists claim that they have not seen this species in Scottish waters before.

“We have never seen this type of shark in Scotland before and it’s great to add it to our long list of species in Scotland,” said marine biologist Francis Neat. “I was pretty surprised when it landed in our boat.”

“It’s a big and baggy-looking creature. It looks a lot like a soft, discarded sofa when it’s just lying there.”

The shark was identified as female. It was measured at two and a half meters in length and weighted 60kg, more than double the weight of a catshark seen in Scottish territory some 15 years ago.

This accidental meeting with the sofa shark takes the total number of shark species found in Scotland to 72.

“Not too long ago we were told that there was only 32 different types of shark in Scottish waters but in the past year we’ve learned that there are actually 72 different species, many of which are in deep water.” A spokesman for the Scottish Shark Tagging program said in a statement.

Deep-water species usually found between 500m to 1400m deep on the ocean floor. The newly discovered shark species was spotted as deep as 1900m. The shark has tiny teeth and usually eats eels, squids and shrimps. It has enormous oily liver which makes up 25 percent of its total weight.

Sofa shark might be seen for the first time in Scotland but in various other locations it has been spotted before including western Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. However, researchers are not sure about how many sofa sharks exist in Scotland and in the waters around the world.

Source: Scotman

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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