Common Name: Goblin Shark

Scientific Name: Mitsukurina ownsti

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Chondrichthyes

Order: Lamniformes

Family: Mitsukurina

Genus: Mitsukurina

Species: M. ownsti

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Mitsukurina Ownsti is the scientific name for the Goblin Shark, a fierce looking fish that is actually not considered dangerous to humans. This is only one of the many amazing organisms living in the sea. Goblin Sharks can grow up to 11 feet long (3.3m) and weigh 350 lbs. These sharks have pinkish-gray rubbery skin (when they are dead they looks colorless due to the lack of pigment) that gets paler on the belly. This is due to the blood vessels that are close under their skin. The Goblin Shark is easily identified by its unmistakable beak-like snout which is not sharp enough to stab and kill prey, but it is said to be used to detect the electric signals that other fish give off. So they can use their snout to dig up the prey that they sense hiding in the sand. They have long jaws with fang looking teeth. The teeth are in the back of the mouth and are used to crush prey. They also have Bluefins (in color); they do not have a nictitating eyelid, they have a flabby body, and tail with a weakly developed lower lobe. Sharks eyes have well adapted to their marine environment. They have also adapted to see in the dark.

 

Goblin Sharks eat crabs, deep sea squid and small bony fish. These fish have hardly ever been seen in their natural habitat, so it is hard to know how well they do in their ecosystem. They are bottom-dwelling fish and they can be discovered in all parts of the world from Australia to the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico in the Atlantic Ocean. They were also discovered off the coast of New Zealand. There is an unknown amount of this species, but it is known that their population is currently shrinking, giving them a spot on the endangered species list. This is because they are fished off Japan and they are taken as bycatch. This is also because they are rarely seen and this is a very old species dating back to around ninety million years ago. Goblin Sharks are rarely ever seen alive so no one is sure of its role in the food web.

 

These fish are said to be sluggish predators. They lazily swim along waiting for migrating fish to come within striking distance of them. They are not highly active fish but they may be active in the evening and or morning. Goblin Sharks have no known predators except for Japanese fishermen, therefore, this fish has no known ways for it to avoid being eaten (or captured). This is also because they live so far down in the sea they are not able to be seen very well. As I read and researched about the Goblin Shark what stood out is that this is a very rare species. Fossils that have been found date back to around ninety million years ago so this is a very old species. I learned that there are so many other unnoticeable organisms waiting to be discovered and studied. And that there are species that, like the Goblin Shark, have thrived for all these years and are now being taken from the sea, and like many others, may not return. At first, (after I heard about how old this species is) I thought that all the Goblin Sharks were fished out of the sea, but right in the middle of this research, I realized that there were still a few left in the sea just waiting to be discovered.

 

Author: Dominique C

Published: 05/2009

 

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsukurina_owstoni http://www.austmus.gov.au/fishes/fishfacts/fish/mowstoni.htm http://marinebio.org/species.asp?id=234

 

Photo Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mitsukurina_owstoni,_Pengo.jpg