An incredibly rare megamouth shark was discovered washed up ashore in a remote village in the Philippines — raising questions of how the deep-water predator ended up there.
The shark, known as Megachasma pelagios, was found by fishermen in the coastal village of Bagacay, Sorsogon province, on June 11.
Nonie Enolva, a spokesperson for the Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), told the news outlet Rappler that she suspects the massive sea creature may have become tangled in a fishing net.
The shark’s official cause of death has not yet been determined.
Photos posted by Enolva on her Facebook page a week ago showed villagers posing on the beach with the hulking dead predator measuring 15 feet in length.
“We want to know and verify the cause of death of the megamouth shark,” the BFAR rep said. “We want to preserve it either through taxidermy or submerge it through preservation solutions.”
Megamouth sharks live from near the surface to as deep as 15,000 feet, spending most of their time in the dark. They are filter-feeders and swim with their enormous mouths constantly agape to catch plankton.
The sharks weigh on average about 2,700-pounds, grow up to 16-17 feet in length and can live up to 100 years.
The Megamouth is the third largest known filter-feeder shark species, behind the whale shark and basking shark.
Despite its impressive size, it is known as the world’s most elusive shark, having been observed only around 100 times since the species was discovered by a US Navy ship in 1976 off the coast of Hawaii.
Most of the confirmed sightings have been reported in the Philippines and Taiwan, in areas rich in plankton.