The goblin shark, aka elfin shark, vampire shark, or tengu-zame (named after the red-faced, long-nosed Japanese demon known as the tengu – zame meaning shark) is as creepy looking as it is cool. While common off the coast of Japan, in the Pacific Ocean, it can also be found in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans too. They hail from the Mitsukurinidae family which dates back to over 125 million years. The Goblin Shark is the only extant member of that family, making it a living fossil.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Mitsukurina owstoni
Weight: Up to 460 lbs.
Length: Up to 12.6 feet
Lifespan: Up to 35 years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) These sharks prefer depths of 900 – 4,300 feet. Young sharks occasionally come to within 90 feet of the surface.
2.) Due to living in primarily dark waters, they have small eyes, therefore relying on their ability to pick up on electrical senses of approaching prey.
3.) Like the xenomorph in the movie Alien, these sharks are able to project their jaws out in order to ensnare prey. This is sometimes referred to as slingshot feeding. They are able to project their jaws up to 8.6% – 9.4% of their total body length.
4.) Their jaws shoot out at up to 10 feet per second!
5.) They can open their mouths at a whopping 111° angle! This helps them to ensnare prey.
But wait, there’s more on the goblin shark!
6.) Goblin sharks primarily feed on fish, crabs, octopi, squid, and rays.
7.) The long, flat nose of the Goblin Shark actually decreases in length with age.
Did you know…?
It is thought that their long nose, or rostrum, contains ampullae of Lorenzini pores, which is the sensory system that provides sharks with the ability to pick up electrical signals of prey underwater.
8.) Due to their low density body and large oily liver, they are neutrally buoyant. This aids them in drifting silently through the open ocean and ambushing unsuspecting fish.