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Goblin Shark

September 12, 2019


[music playing] Hi, I’m Mark McGrouther – I’m the fish collection manager here at the Australian Museum. We’re here in the Australian Museum’s sorting and receiving lab because we have a Goblin Shark, which is very, very cool. The scientific name is wonderful, Mitsukurina owstoni. These are amazing looking animals. As you can see they are fairly soft and flabby looking. They don’t have very strong muscles, they’re a kind of pinky colour, gray fins, but the most amazing thing about these is their incredible jaws. What happens with this short of shark is that they actually swim along the bottom in deep water, they’re swimming about 300 metres down to maybe 900 metres down off the coasts of numerous places, the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Indian. And what they’ll do is they’ll use this amazing snout of theirs, there are pores in the snout and behind each of those pores is a little ampoule, these are the Ampulae of Lorenzini, and they can detect electricity. And what this fish does, when it detects electricity from perhaps a crab or a fish or whatever its prey is, it lowers the bottom jaw and then the whole mechanism shoots forward and manages to spear whatever prey it’s after. And unlike other sharks like whalers and white sharks and tiger sharks it’s got, as you can see very, very pointy teeth, and these teeth are used to spear the prey not to actually cut it, so this fish will generally be swallowing prey whole. This is the fourth specimen I’ve seen. I’ve seen two large ones over 3 metres long and another small one, similar size to this, so they are not encountered terribly often and when they do come here it’s a very special day.

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