Goblin Sharks

Aside from the hammerhead shark the goblin shark has to be one of the more bizarre-looking sharks in the world’s oceans. A deep-sea shark, the goblin was first discovered off the shores of Japan in the 1800s by Japanese fishermen and, though it can be found in most deep waters, it is more prevalent near Japan. The goblin spends its time far below the water’s surface where the sun cannot reach it in waters deeper than 700 feet. It is because of this that science knows precious little about the behavior and mating habits of the goblin shark.

At first glance the goblin shark looks like a pink-colored grey nurse shark, however once it opens its mouth you will see the vast difference. Much like the creature in Alien, the goblins jaws extend from its head, jutting out to capture its prey. The characteristically pointed dorsal fins found on most sharks is quite different in the goblin shark. Their first and second dorsal fins are short and rounded, with anal and pelvic fins significantly larger than the dorsal fins.

The color of the goblin shark is unique to this species. The pink coloration is due to the transparent skin, and as such this shark will bruise quite easily. The fins of the goblin shark appear to be blue. Another unique attribute to this shark is the nictitating membrane, or third eyelid. The nictitating membrane is a translucent protective cover that goes across the shark’s eye to protect it while it is eating. The goblin shark is one of the few that do not have this feature.

Deep below the water’s surface in the goblin shark’s natural habitat it is considered to be among those at the top of the food chain. Very little, if anything is known about the mating and reproduction habits, however in studying captured goblin sharks it has been proven that they are live bearers rather than egg layers. Upon further inspection of the captured goblin sharks it has been discovered that up to 25% of its body weight is made up by its liver, however it is uncertain why the liver is so large.

Because the goblin shark stays deep in the ocean where it is unlikely that even divers will come into contact with it, it is not considered a threat to humans. They are usually caught in deep sea fishing nets by accident, and because of their unique jaw structure their skeletal remains are in high demand by some collectors, however conservationists do not consider this shark to be a concern for endangerment.