Goblin Shark Extinct: Where, How Many, When Last Found, Several Facts


Sharks are unique marine creatures. From their body structure to their forever teething, they are fascinating predators to study and learn about.

That said, there are another shark species known as the “living fossils,” the goblin sharks. These sharks, which belong to the mitsukurina family, are the only surviving family member and have evolved during the early cretaceous period, dating back 125 million years. They are one of the strangest-looking sharks.

It goes without saying that exploring more about this shark species would be incredibly interesting. Consequently, this piece will focus on goblin sharks in particular, as well as numerous information about their presence and potential extinction.

So be with us as we explore the world of goblin sharks!

Image Credit: Mistukurina owstoni museum Victoria by Dianne Bray (CC BY 3.0 AU) from Wikimedia

Are goblin sharks real?

In actuality, the term “goblin” refers to characters from the realm of imagination. But are they genuine or mythical creatures in the instance of goblin sharks? Let’s go exploring!

Goblin sharks exist today, and they’re frequently located near the ocean’s bottom, along continental edges. However, these sharks have a large range that spans the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They are, however, predominantly found around the Japanese beaches.

These sharks are creeper fishes, and it’s worth noting that they may have coexisted with dinosaurs on the planet. However, even though they are the only living member of the mitsukurina family, they are not currently considered endangered.

Goblin shark facts

Goblin sharks have a distinct appearance with their long snout or rostrum and teeth. So, let’s have a look at some of their basic information.

Goblin sharks are rarely observed near the water’s surface, and they have hardly been filmed. However, in order to get a closer understanding of them, let’s look at some basic information about them.

Common name:

Goblin shark

Another name:

Living fossil

Kingdom:

Animalia 

Family:

Mitsukurinidae

Species name:

M. Owstoni

Scientific name:

Mitsukurina owstoni

Genus:

Mitsukurina

Diet:

Carnivorous, including fishes, cephalopods, and crustaceans.

Skin color:

Pink and tan

Length:

330 to 460 pounds

Width:

9.8 to 13.1 feet

Lifespan: 

Up to 60 years

Is it true that goblin sharks are extinct?

Goblin sharks are possibly the only sharks that are considered living fossils. They are among the ocean’s oldest species, but are they long extinct?

Goblin sharks date back 125 million years, but they are not yet extinct. They aren’t even classified as an endangered shark species. They like swimming on the ocean floor at depths of up to 4,000 feet and are rarely observed near the surface.

Regardless, goblins are known as living fossils since their current incarnation bears an uncanny resemblance to the fossilized goblin species. As a result, while being living fossils, the new incarnations have yet to be fossilized!

Why are goblin sharks called “living fossils”?

Image Credit: Goblin shark snout by Hungarian Snow (CC BY-SA 2.0) from Wikimedia

Living fossils are animals that are considered to be among the planet’s most ancient. So, what makes goblin sharks the ocean’s living fossil?

The primary reason these fish are considered living fossils is that they resemble the long-extinct Scapanorhynchus species, which dates back over 100 years. However, comparing the contemporary incarnation with fossils shows that the species hasn’t changed their appearance much over time.

As a result, when this species was discovered in Japan in 1898, scientists got a sense of déjà vu, as if they were staring at members of the long-lost scapanorhynchus shark species.

How many goblin sharks are left?

Image Credit: Sarcoprion by Dmitry Bogdanov (CC BY-SA 3.0) from Wikimedia

Goblin sharks aren’t actually endangered, although there aren’t many of them around. In reality, this is a really rare shark.

That being said, goblin sharks are the sole living Mitsukurinidae family member; however, their exact number is unknown. Only 50 of these fishes are thought to have been studied by humans so far. Mitsukurina owstoni, as well as the fossil species Scapanorhynchus and Anomotodon, are found in this family.

It isn’t much known about this unusual shark. Yet, despite their rarity, these sharks have a steady population that is widely distributed around the planet.

Are goblin sharks endangered?

The terrifying-looking shark is rarely seen in close proximity to humans. Is it, therefore, appropriate to classify them as endangered shark species?

Even if goblin sharks are uncommonly sighted, this does not mean they are endangered. In fact, they are classified as “Minor Concern” on the UICN Red List. Furthermore, their populations are said to be stable throughout the world.

In this sense, it’s worth noting that goblin sharks aren’t commercially fished and are only seldom caught accidentally in other species’ fisheries.

When was the last goblin shark found?

Goblin sharks are distributed across the planet and can be found in regions like the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. However, these sharks are mostly found in deep water.

A goblin shark is extremely rare, and the last time one was discovered was in Australia in 2015. Before that, in 2014, a goblin shark was captured in the Gulf of Mexico by anglers in Key West, Florida. It was just the second to be caught in the Gulf after 2000. In the same year, another goblin shark was discovered in a Sri Lankan fishery net.

However, it is important to mark that this fish was not captured on purpose and was caught in a fishing net while looking for other fish species. 

Where can you find a goblin shark?

Because goblins are uncommon, it’s difficult to know where to look for them. Let’s go exploring!

Goblin sharks are mostly found in the deep ocean. Adults can be seen swimming in ranges of 900 to 4300 feet, but juveniles can get as close as 90 feet to the surface. In terms of habitat, these sharks are found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans and around the coasts of Japan.

Goblin sharks are said to have wandered deep ocean trenches like the Mariana for centuries without changing an iota in their appearance. Goblins can also be found in French Guiana, Brazil, France, Portugal, Senegal, and the Indo-Pacific and Oceania near Mozambique, among other places.

How was the goblin shark discovered?

Human encounters with goblin sharks are extremely unusual. And to date, every encounter has been marked with bold letters. But when did it all start?

In 1898, goblin sharks were spotted for the first time in deep seas off the coast of Japan. It was assigned to the species Mitsukurina after its discovery and was given a scientific name in honor of Kakichi Mitsukuri and Alan Owston, two people who assisted in its discovery.

This species, researchers determined, have a slow swimming speed and has evolved to survive in deep-sea conditions where food is sparse.

What makes the goblin shark scary?

No one can deny that a goblin shark has a vicious appearance. But is it just the fish’s appearance that makes it scary, or does it have any other frightening characteristics?

Apart from their appearance, goblin sharks are scary due to their ability to thrust their teeth forward to seize their prey. Slingshot feeding is their method of capturing prey, which allows them to extend their jaws roughly 10% of the length of their entire body at a pace of around 3.1 meters per second!

On the other hand, Goblin sharks are not frightening or harmful to people due to their deep-sea habitat. In fact, they prefer to avoid any attention and stay at the ocean’s surface.

Are goblin sharks aggressive?

Image Credit: Hammerhead shark from Maxpixel

Sharks are known to be the apex predators of the ocean. They are vicious and aggressive in their approach towards their prey. Can the same be stated for goblin sharks?

Goblin sharks appear to be less aggressive than Tiger Sharks and Hammerhead Sharks. Nonetheless, their slingshot feeding method makes them quite adept at systematically grabbing their prey.

Despite this, these fish are not aggressive towards humans. There’s, however, a 0.00001% possibility of encountering goblins assaulting humans.

Summary

Before we conclude, we’d want to point out that we’ve included every piece of information we could find about the current state of the goblin shark. We hope that this article has aided you in better understanding this subject. Goblin sharks are a rare shark species; however, they are not endangered. They are shy sharks who prefer to keep away from humans, even though they have lived on this planet for over 125 years.

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