Scientists readily admit that we know more about outer space than the deepest depths of the Earth’s oceans – and in Florida the waters cast up a rather gruesome surprise.
A fisherman trawling for shrimp off the coast of Key West found an 18-foot-long goblin shark thrashing about in his net, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service reported.
The enormous catch was one of a rare species of shark that has only been seen in the Gulf of Mexico once previously, in 2002.
After the fisherman, named Carl Moore, had documented the catch on camera, the shark was released back into the water and subsequently swam away.
Mr Moore told the Houston Chronicle: “I didn't even know what it was.
"I didn't get the tape measure out because that thing's got some wicked teeth, they could do some damage."
The incident happened on 19 April, but it wasn’t until Thursday that Mr Moore reported the find to the NOAA and biologists are now working with him to gather further information about the shark, which usually inhabits deep waters off the coast of Japan.
The goblin shark is notable for its long head, tiny eyes and elongated, flat snout. It has a protrusible jaw with over 50 long, thin – and sharp – teeth. Its body is flabby and pinkish in colour with white fins.
But scientists are keen to know more about the ugly fish. University of Miami marine biologist David Shiffman told the Houston Chronicle: “They are a very rarely seen animal that has not been studied enough; as soon as the news got out, I got more than two dozen requests for different measurements.”
He added that although he was glad the goblin shark had been released back into the sea, he regretted the missed opportunity to study the giant fish in more detail.