‘Living dinosaur’ trawled from local waters

A rare and very unusual shark has been caught by local fisherman, Mike Kelly who owns and operates the Melisa, out of Eden. The goblin shark, (Mitsukurina owstoni) spends most of its life in very deep waters but this one came up in a net when Mike was trawling south East of Gabo Island in approximately 2000 feet of water.

The find created considerable interest at The Wharf Aquarium on Thursday with local recreational fisherman, “old Errol” quoted as having never seen one in the flesh in all his decades of fishing in local waters.

Luckily, Merimbula had the expertise of the Wharf Aquarium curator Michael McMaster who was enthusiastically examining the animal when the News Weekly visited. Michael said very little is known about these elusive creatures. 

The shark was described as belonging to an “evolutionary dead end”, being the only species in its genus, which stopped evolving about 70 million years ago, during the dinosaur era.

The specimen is believed to be only two to three years old, given its length of approximately 1.2m. Adult goblin sharks grow to a length of 3.8m.

Trawler owner, Mike told the News Weekly: I've caught them before probably about 12 in my career but this was only a small one. Normally though you expect to find them in 3000-4000 feet of water.

The sharks find their prey using hundreds of small sensors in their ‘nasal paddle’ which detect small electrical fields produced by the crustaceans and cephalopods they feed upon.

“Their teeth are often found in underwater electrical cables,” Michael explained.

“A lot of fishermen have been saying that the currents are very different this year,” added Michael, which, he speculated, may have something to do with how this shark found its way into the net in shallower waters.

The shark will be sent to the Australian Museum in Sydney to be added to their collection.