Technology

Long-standing mystery solved after pregnant megamouth shark washes up on beach


The megamouth shark is a creature that is shrouded in mystery (Picture: Shutterstock)

Scientists are one step closer to understanding the mystery of the megamouth shark as the first ever pregnant one has been found.

The 18-foot shark washed up on the shores of Aurora, Philippines, on November 14, and was found pregnant with seven pups which were expelled from her body on shore.

It confirmed to scientists that the shark gives birth to their offspring instead of laying eggs.

Researchers before now were unsure whether megamouth sharks were ovoviviparous like other shark species, meaning eggs develop inside their body, which they later lay.

She was taken in for a necropsy performed by an expert from the Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

Another pup also went for necropsy, while the other six were taken to the National Museum of the Philippines for further examinations and processing, such as genetic testing to see if the young could have different fathers.

The sea creatures will be kept at the museum and preserved in their collection for future exhibitions after the examinations.

This sighting means scientists have been able to study further the creature’s reproductive system and learn more about young megamouth sharks.

Little is known about the elusive creature (Picture: Shutterstock)

The megamouth shark was first discovered in 1976 so not a lot is known about it.

Only around 100 of them have been observed by scientists and this is often when they get caught or stranded.

It is unclear how the megamouth shark became stranded but there were no signs of injuries meaning it was not caught by a fisherman, according to AA Yaptinchay, a researcher involved in the necropsy as reported in the New Scientist.

He said it was concerning that a creature so large produces very few offspring.

AA Yaptinchay said: ‘Now we know they just have seven pups, compared to whale sharks, which have over 300 or tuna, which have millions.’

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