Megachasma pelagios

The Megamouth Shark

Date:
15th November 1976

Location:
Approx. 25 miles off the coast Oahu, Hawaii
Mission:
A U.S. Navy Ship has orders to search and recover
lost "Dummy" Torpedoes.
Result:
The most exciting Shark discovery

As the Chute like drift anchor was being towed, suddenly something huge caused it to drag down. On reeling it up back to the ship, the crew are amazed to find a huge fish, entangled in a deep-water net.

With a mouth measuring 1 metre wide at the tip of a 4.5 metres long brownish coloured flabby body, it was soon released that nobody had ever seen this species before!!

It took about 7 years before this species was identified and named as Megachasma pelagios, or as it is better known,
The Megamouth Shark.

Megamouth. Shark

The First
Megamouth Shark, (
Megachasma pelagios)
Discovered in Hawaii on Nov. 15th. 1976

 

Eight years after the original discovery, a second Male specimen was brought up dead, in a fishing net off the coast of California.

Until today 65 Megamouth sharks have been discovered.

No:
DATE:
LOCATION:
SEX:
SIZE:
PHOTO:
REMARKS:
1
15 Nov 76
Oahu, Hawaii
M
446cm
The first Megamouth discovered in Hawaii in 1976

Dead.
Bernice P. Bishop Museum Honolulu, Hawaii

2
29 Nov 84
Catalina Island, California,
USA
M
449cm
Megamouth # 2
Dead
Los Angeles County Museum
3
18 Aug 88
Mandurah,
Australia
M
515cm
Meg 3 from Australia
Dead
Western Australia Museum
4
23 Jan 89
Hamamatsu City,
Japan
M
400+cm
Megamouth 4
Dead
5
Jun 89
Suruga Bay,
Japan
F?
490cm
?
Released Alive
6
21 Oct 90
Dana Point, California,
USA
M
494cm
Megamouth 6 was released.... see below for story.

Released alive
and Tracked
Video

7
29 Nov 94
Hakata Bay,
Japan
F
471cm
Megamouth 7 preserved at Fukuoma ´s Marine World.
Dead
Marine World Fukuoka, Japan
8
4 May 95
Dakar, Senegal
M
180cm
?
Discarded
9
18 Sept 95
Southern Brazil
M
190cm
Meg 9 from Brazil
Dead
Instituto de Pesca, São Paulo, Brazil
10
30 Apr 97
Owase City,
Mikisaki, Mie
Japan
F
544cm
Megamouth 10
Preserved at Toba Aquarium
11
20 Feb 98
Cagayan de Oro, Macajalar Bay,
Philippines
M
549cm
Megamouth 11 before ending up at the market.
Consumed
12
23 Apr 98
Mihama-cho,
Atawa, Mie,
Japan
F
549cm
?
Discarded
13
30 Aug 98
Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia
F
ca.
500cm
Megamouth 13 swimming away
Sighted being attacked by Orcas and Swam Away
14
1 Oct 99
W of San Diego, California,
USA
F
518cm
Megamouth 14 was releassed after it was accidentaly caught.
Released Alive
15
19 Oct 01
NW of San Diego, California,
USA
M
548cm
Megamouth 15 was caught n a net.
Released Alive
16
18 Jan 02
East Indian Ocean
M
235cm
Megamouth 16
Tuna purse seine, discarded
Dead
17
20 Apr 02

Natures Valley,
Plettenberg Bay,
South Africa

F
350cm
Megamouth 17 was found dead.
Washed Ashore
Dead.
Port Elisabeth Museum,
South Africa.
18
6 Jan 03
Cagayan de Oro, Macajalar Bay, Philippines
F
497cm
Megamouth 18 before it got cut up.
Consumed
19
26 May 03
Dana Point, California,
USA
?
610 - 760cm
?
Sighting
20
3 Jul 03
Hualien Province
Taiwan
M
ca 250cm
Megamouth 20
Consumed
21
7 Aug 03
Omaezaki, Sizuoka
Japan
M
430
Megamouth 21 from Japan
Found Dead and kept at
Tokai University

(more photos)
22
8 Mar 04
Ecuador / Peru
M
420cm
Megamouth 22 caught off  Peru
Consumed
23
13 Mar 04
Gapang Beach, Sumatra, Indonesia.
M
177cm
Close Up of Megamouth 23
Washed Ashore Dead.
LIPI Museum, Chibinong, Jakarta.
24
19 Apr 04
Tokyo Bay,
Ichihara City,
Japan
F
563cm
Megamouth 24 preserved at  the museum
Washed Ashore
Dead
25
23 Apr 04
Ajiro, Shizuoka,
Japan
F
ca. 490cm
Megamouth 25
Discarded
26
04 Nov 04
Namocon Beach, Tigbauan, Iloilo Philippines
F
504cm
Megamouth 26 being carried away.
Stranded on beach and Died later. Now at SEAFDEC Museum.
27
23 Jan 05

Kisei cho Nishiki, Mie,
Japan

F
528cm
Meg 27
Captured with a purse seine
28
30 Jan 05
Barangay Agusan,
Macajalar Bay
Cagayan de Oro,
Phillippines
F
417cm
Megamouth 28 after the fins had been cut off.
Died after being Captured in net.
29
25 Apr 05
Hualien, Eastern Taiwan
?
?
?

First of 4 specimens cought within 10 days in the same region. 630 kilos. Was consumed

30
2 May 05
Hualien, Eastern Taiwan
?
?
?

Second of 4.
680 kilos. Was comsumed.

31
4 May 05
Hualien, Eastern Taiwan
F
487cm
Megamouth 31

Third of 4.
Dead. Weighted 689 kilos. Believed to be pregnant.

Taken to Taipei Zoo/Academia Sinica.

32
5 May 05
Hualien, Eastern Taiwan
F
483cm
Megamouth 32

Fourth of 4.
Dead. Believed to weight 807 kilos. and more likely to be pregnant than meg 31!!

Taken to Taipei Zoo/Academia Sinica.

33
5 Jun 05
Hualien, Eastern Taiwan
M
350/
400cm
Megamouth 33
Another Megamouth was caught from the same location.
400-500 kg
34
26 Jan 06
Bayawan Coast
(south of Dmaguete City),
Central Visayas,
Philippines island of Negros
F
500cm
Megamouth 34
Accidental capture by fishermen.
Died before it could be set free.
35
12 Mar 06
Barra, Macajalar Bay
Cagayan de Oro,
Phillippines
F
226cm
Megamouth 35
Was dead when it reached the shore after being entangled by a fisherman's gill net.
36
23 Mar 06
China Sea
?
470cm
Megamouth 36
Caught and killed.
37
2 May 06
Sagami Bay,
Yugawara, (Kanagawa pref)
Japan
F
570cm
Megamouth 37
Found alive in a fixed shore net but it died before it was pulled up. Put on display at Keikyu Aburatsubo marine park (in Kanagawa) Japan
(more photos)
(Video)
38
16 Nov 06
Tortugas Bay,
West Coast of Baja California,
Mexico
F
226.5cm
Megamouth 38
Caught in a gill net. Was later donated to the Scripps Institute of
Oceanography (SIO), La Jolla, California, USA
39
30 May 07
Barangay Tungkob,
Minglanilla town, Cebu,
Philippines
?
249cm
?
Shark found alive with hole in the head. Died later.
40
Jun 07
Sagami Bay, Shizuoka,
Japan
F
540cm
Megamouth 40
Found alive in a fixed shore net. The shark was tagged and released.
Video & Photos

41
9 Jul 07
Ibaraki Prefecture,
Japan
F
370cm
megamouth 41
Shark was caught in a net and died. It was kept frozen untill it went on display Churaumi Aquarium in 2011.
Click for video clip and data
42
23 Sep 07
Baja California, México
?
?
Sighted between Cedros Island and San Benito Islands.
43
27 Sep 07
Hinunangan,
So Lyete,
Philippines
?
274cm
Megamouth 43
Found Dead Stranded On Beach.
44
30 Jun 08
Taiwan
M
?
Jaws of Megamouth 43
Caught and killed.
45
10 Jul 08
Taiwan
M
500/550cm
Megamouth 45
Caught and killed
46
5 Sep 08
Hinunangan,
So Lyete,
Philippines
?
213cm
?

Found Stranded On Beach and was pushed back into the sea.

47
30 Mar 09
Eastern Coast of Burioas Isle,
Donsol, Sorsogon,
Philippines
M
400cm
Megamouth 47
Died when caught in a gill net. Gordon Hubbell has Jaws
48
8 Jun 09
Taitung, Chenggong,
Taiwan
F
390cm
Megamouth 48

Was sold for NT$18,000 (US$549) to a local shark museum where it will be displayed as a preserved specimen.

49
9 Jul 09
Praia Grande, Cabo Frio,
Rio de Janeiro
Brazil
M
539cm
Megamouth 49
According to
LIMA,M.L.; RENNÓ,B. & SICILIANO,S. 2009. Gigante dos mares em areias
fluminenses. Ciencia Hoje, Vol. 44, Setembro, 56-57.

Part of the specimen was consumed by the locals.

50
6 Nov 09
Tortugas Bay, West Coast of Baja California, Mexico
M
180cm
Megamouth 50
Caught in a net and killed by the same boat that caught Megamouth 38 on 16th. Nov 06
51
25 Apr 10
Off South East
China
M
approx 400cm
Skin of Megamouth 50
Caught and Killed. Only skin and jaws left.
52
19 Jun 10
Eastern Taiwan
?
?
Jaws of Megamouth 52
Caught and Killed.
Only jaws left.
53
2010
Pamilacan Island, Bohol,
Philippines
?
?
Jaws of Megamouth 53
Caught and Killed.
Only jaws left.
54
14 Jan 11
Owase, Mie Pref.
Japan
F
approx
500cm
Megamouth 54
Was trapped in nets. Filmed and later killed.
55
24 Jun 11
Shizuoka pref,
Japan
F
540cm
Caught in a set net. Since March 2012 the specimen has been exhibited at the Main Rest House, Churaumi Plaza.

Pectoral Fin of the Megamouth Shark: Skeletal and Muscular Systems, Skin Histology, and Functional Morphology by Taketeru Tomita, Sho Tanaka, Keiichi Sato, Kazuhiro Nakaya

56
1 Jul 11
Kanagawa Pref
Japan
?
approx
300cm
Meg 56
Caught and Killed
Photos & Video
57
Jan 12
East Sea of China
F
approx
570cm
Megamouth 57
Caught and Killed
58
5 Jul 12
Negombo fisheries harbour, Sri Lanka
?
?
Caught and Killed
59
16 Oct 12
Eastern Taiwan
F
Between
429 - 640cm
Megamouth 59
Caught and killed. Tail broke off when it was being hauled into the harbour. The orgens were preserved and donated to a university and the flesh was sold.
60
Jan 13
Sagami Bay, Shizuoka,
Japan
F
Discovery Megamouth
Filmed and Released for Discovery Shark Week 2013 -
Alien Sharks
61
6 Sep 13
Manazuru,
Japan
F
577cm
Megamouth 61
Caught and killed.
62
14 Mar 14
Sabang West,
Philippines
F
Megamouth 62
Washed ashore dead
Video & Photos
63
14 Apr 14
Yui, Shizuoka pref. 
Japan
F
440cm
Megamouth 63
Caught and killed
Kept frozen at Tokai University.

Video
64
23 Jun 14
Barangay 2, Pobalcion, Tubay, Agusan Del Norte
Philippines

?
?
Megamouth 64
Caught and released alive.
Video
65
30 Jun 14
Cagayan de Oro
Philippines
F
548cm
Meg 65
Found dead on shore. Skin to be put on display at D' Bone Collector Museum in Davao City
More info

 

Some Statistics.

Locations
Japan
Philippines
Taiwan
Usa
China
Mexico
Brazil
Indonesia
Ecuador / Peru
Australia
South Africa
Senegal
Indian Ocean

Sri Lanka
18
14
11
6
3
3
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
Sex
Male
Female
Unknown
21
31
13

 

Condition
Alive
Dead
11
54

 

Sizes
Largest confirmed
Largest unconfirmed
Smallest confirmed
577cm
610 - 760cm
177cm

SPECIAL THANKS
to the following Friends for allowing me to use some of their photos on this page.

BARRY HUTCHINS WESTERN AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM

MARK McGROUTHER AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM FISH SITE

TOM HAIGHT WWW.OCEANIMAGES.COM

DON PETERSEN NOAA FISHERIES - SOUTHWEST REGION

TON EGBERS LUMBA LUMBA DIVING CENTRE

ELSON ELIZAGA MEGAMOUTHS 11 & 28

TEODORA BAGARINAO SEAFDEC PHILIPPINES

ARNEL YAPTINCHAY MARINE WILDLIFE WATCH OF THE PHILIPPINES

 

VICTOR LIN

and to

Henry F. Mollet

Florida Museum of Natural History

Taku Horie, PH.D, Department of Marine Biology. Tokai Univ. Japan

for their help.


 

Megamouth #23
The Smallest found so far.

Close Up of Megamouth
(click to enlarge)

This Specimen washed up on the Gapang beach, Sumatra, right in front of Ton Egbers house.

Ton writes: I think there can be no doubt anymore that the shark specimen that washed ashore here today on Gapang Beach, less than 30 meters away from our doorstep, literally, is the rare shark species Megachasma pelagios.

The shark must have died only somewhat earlier, as it wasn't even smelly at all. Total length is 177 cm, standard length (precaudal) 115 and caudal length 62. Pectorals are 33.

Megamouth Shark # 23
Megamouth Shark # 23
Megamouth Shark # 23 total length 177cm
Megamouth Shark # 23
Megamouth Shark # 23
inside Megamouth
Megamouth Shark # 23
Megamouth being taken for preservation
Megamouth being cleaned.
Compct size
Wrapped Air tight in plastic.
Megamouth being sealed up
Megamouth  ready for the freezer.

(click small images to enlarge)

Sharkman Comments:

Megamouth 23 (nicknamed MEMO Jr.) is now having a series of tests done at the LIPI in Jakarta.

Sharkman's World will be keeping you informed of the developments in this story.

I would like to thank Ton for passing on the Info and for allowing me to use his photos.

Ton's homepage is
LUMBA LUMBA DIVING CENTRE

 


 

The Elusive Megamouth Shark (#6)

Text and Photography by Tom Haight



Like so many people, as a teenager I became fascinated by the oceans after reading a book called "The Silent World" written by the late Jacques Cousteau. I knew that I had to explore the oceans and enjoy the peace and serenity it offers to those who try to capture the untold beauty it represents.

If you are like me, I am sure that you dream of doing something that has never been done before. If you are lucky you will never stop the dreaming, because sometimes those dreams do come true.

First Live photos of a Megamouth Shark photo by Tom Haight

On October 22, 1990 my dream became reality. I shot underwater photographs and video of a living Megamouth shark.

The summer of 1990 in Southern California was one full of surprises brought on by ocean temperatures that were warmer than usual. Some of the unexpected treats were large schools of yellowtail, Dorado, trigger fish and a few sea turtles. Naturally the biggest surprise of all was the living Megamouth shark.

Megamouths are so rare that they were not known to exist until the first one was discovered off the coast of Hawaii in 1976. Four more specimens were discovered off the coasts of California, Australia and Japan prior to the Dana Point Megamouth, but none had lived long enough to be studied or photographed alive.

I was at my Capistrano Beach home editing slides of baby Garibaldi, a local fish, when a friend called to tell me that a live Megamouth had been accidentally captured in a local fisherman's drift net. This would be the sixth Megamouth seen by man. When he hauled up the net, the fisherman knew that he had something unusual and he towed it seven miles by the tail, back to Dana Point Harbor. It was there in the harbor that it was finally identified as the rare Megamouth shark. Dr. Don Nelson, a shark behavior expert at California State University in Long Beach, was summoned to come down. He planned the radio tagging, study and release of the shark.

"That thrill of a lifetime" came at 1:30 P.M. when I slipped over the side of my boat and finally saw the shark. The shark was approximately 15 feet long and weighed about 2,000 pounds. The mouth was about 3 feet wide, big enough for a small diver with gear to swim into. This Megamouth, like the previous five, was a male, which was evident by the claspers on the underside of the shark. These gentle giants of the deep feed on krill and plankton so even though they have many vestigial teeth they are not considered a threat to larger animals.

First Live photos of a Megamouth Shark photo by Tom Haight

As we approached, the shark seemed to welcome our attention and showed no apparent signs of nervousness, which is more than I can say for the divers in the water, including myself.

I spent nearly four hours in the water with the shark, and I was lucky enough to not only capture the event with still photos and video footage, but also to assist in the studying, tagging and releasing of a creature that is hardly ever seen by man.

First Live photos of a Megamouth Shark photo by Tom Haight

During that time we used a length of rope with equally spaced knots to measure the length and circumference of the shark.
Naturally we had to take some tissue samples of the shark in order for the marine biologists to try to determine if it was healthy.

Two transmitters were attached to the shark - one to track it vertically in the water column and the second one to track it horizontally.

We were constantly touching this strange visitor who was usually at a depth of about 450 feet during daylight hours. He did not seem to mind our prodding, but rather tolerated us as if we were just a part of his daily routine.

First Live photos of a Megamouth Shark photo by Tom Haight

After all the measurements and tissue samples were taken and the transmitters were attached, the rope that restrained the shark by the tail was finally severed. It was exhilarating to see him swim slowly and calmly away from us to the safety of the deep.

The radio transmitters that allowed him to be monitored for the following three days revealed a vertical migration pattern. From dawn to sunset he swam slowly at 450 to 500 feet into the prevailing current, apparently feeding on krill that were at that depth during the daytime. From sunset to sunrise he ascended to 39 to 46 feet below the surface to feed on the krill as they also ascended. The extreme daylight depth could explain why the Megamouth shark is so rarely spotted. Dr. Nelson stated that the tracking of the vertical migration was one of the most significant shark research events in modern history.

Since the Dana Point Megamouth in 1990, eleven more have been seen, but none photographed alive underwater. For me, this once-in-a-lifetime encounter with a rare visitor from inner space was definitely the high point of my 40 years of diving.

So please, keep on dreaming. Your dream could be the next one to come true.

Tom Haight
19th. August 2002



Tom Haight bio

Tom Haight

Tom Haight is a Marine Wildlife Photographer specializing in underwater photography and video. In his 40 years of diving his stock and assignment photography business has take him to some of the top dive destinations and wildlife habitats in the world.

When not traveling, Tom also a teaches PADI specialty courses underwater photo and video courses at Sport Chalet stores in Southern California.

As a retired law enforcement officer, he enjoys volunteering his time to work with and assist the Rangers and Lifeguards on the California State Parks Dive Rescue Teams.

E- mail : tom@oceanimages.com
web site: www.oceanimages.com

Photos used with kind permission of
TOM HAIGHT

 


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