Rare Shark Sold for $17 in Zanzibar

Written by Camilla Jessen

Mar.06 - 2024 10:47 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
A rare pelagic largemouth shark was sold for only $17 at a Zanzibar market.

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In an astonishing find, a pelagic largemouth shark, one of the rarest sharks in the world, was recently sold for a mere $17 at a market in Zanzibar. The Megachasma pelagios, as it's scientifically known, was accidentally caught by a fishing vessel in the waters off Zanzibar before being discarded on the beach of Pemba Island.

Local residents, stumbling upon the shark, decided to sell it.

A Rare Discovery

This sale marks only the sixth recorded encounter of a largemouth shark in Africa from 1995 to 2020, with previous sightings in South Africa, Gabon, Liberia, Senegal, and Mauritania. The discovery of this individual on the east coast of Africa significantly expands the known geographical range of this elusive species.

Discovered in 1976, the pelagic largemouth shark has seen less than 280 of its kind documented globally, making every encounter with this species a critical piece of the puzzle in understanding their habits and distribution.

Despite its rarity, the megamouth shark is not on the endangered list.

It's classified as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because it's found globally. This suggests its population might be much larger than the 280 documented encounters. Fortunately, not all these sightings involve catches by fishing boats, indicating that current fishing practices don't significantly threaten the species. This could be due to the shark inhabiting areas that fishermen typically avoid.

A Call to the Public

Rhett H. Bennett, a marine biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, highlighted the importance of the find.

"Pelagic largemouth sharks are large predators whose migration routes and behavior remain poorly understood," he explained. The rarity and elusive nature of these sharks make every sighting a valuable moment for scientific research and conservation efforts.

Scientists are now calling on the public to report any encounters with largemouth sharks.

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