Common Name: Megamouth Shark

Scientific Name: Megachasma pelagicus


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Chondrichthyes

Order: Lamniformes

Family: Megachasmidae

Genus: Megachasma

Species: M. pelagicus


Since the discovery of the megamouth shark in 1976 only 38 specimens are known. The first finding took place 25 miles off the shore of Kaneohe, Hawaii on November 15, 1976. Megamouth sharks are usually around 16 feet long and 1 ton(2,205 lbs)There are only infrequent sightings of this species. It lives in the ocean possibly between depths of 150 m -1000 m.


It is a filter-feeder which eats plankton including, shrimps, copepods and pelagic jellyfish. The next time a megamouth shark was found was six years later 14 km off Santa Catalina Island, California. Since the first to last findings of this unusual shark they have been found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Indian ocean. They have mostly been found or sighted at Japan and Hawaii.


The megamouth shark has a brown-blackish color on the top half of its body and has white on the bottom. The most obvious physical feature their broad rounded snout, largemouth, very small teeth and its tail is quite similar to a thresher shark. It has finger-like gill rakers and is not a very good swimmer. The megamouth shark lives around the equator. M. Pelagious is relatively new to the world as of 1976. The Megachasma pelagious is a filter feeder; it uses its luminous organs around its mouth to attract prey. It also uses its tiny teeth to filter the water and eat shrimp. They also eat jellyfish and other small fish. This shark has luminous body parts that attract its prey, and it has an interesting facial shape. I learned about a new type of shark that I did not know existed until I did this project.


Author: Shea D

Published: 02/2007


Photo Credit: © 1990 Tom Haight