It has been over a decade, but a rare “sofa shark” was found off Scotland’s shore by a team of marine biologist, who stumbled over this incredible, albeit ugly, specimen.
- The ‘sofa shark’, also known as ‘false catshark’, lurks at depths between 1,600-4,600 feet
- They can reach 10 feet in length, and it was categorized as being ‘Data Deficient’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
- The specimen found off shore of Scotland was 6 feet in length and weighed 132 pounds
- The team of researchers added it to the list of indigenous species found in Scottish waters
Pseudotriakis microdon, otherwise known as “false catshark” or “sofa shark”, are generally rare discoveries due to their habit of lurking around the bottom of the ocean. They travel above continental and insular slopes at depths between 1,600 and 4,600 feet, scouting for prey. They are an exquisite species of ground shark from the Carcharhiniformes family, and it’s the only member of its genus.
It makes it a rare sight, but a team of scientists from Marine Scotland undergoing a deep sea study have accidentally encountered one of these odd-looking sharks.
According to Francis Neat, a marine biologist who was on the boat, they haven’t seen a catshark near Scotland in 10 years. And yet, this incredibly large specimen brought its flabby features and alien-like traits to the waters near Barra and St. Kilda islands.
Sofa sharks are a unique creature that presents itself with an unappealing aspect. It has the usual parts of a ground shark, with two dorsal fins, one anal fin, five gill slits and the protective nictitating membrane over its eyes. However, it’s also like the ‘blobfish’ if sharks. After all, they do get their nickname because they look like an old couch when stranded on land.
However, the catshark is stated to be quite agile through the waters. It feeds on mackerel, eel, octopus, and lantern sharks, roaming around the deep depths of the sea. It’s considered a main predator of the ocean floor, with narrow, feline-like eyes, sharp teeth and broad mouth.
They can reach up lengths of 10 feet, which makes them a considerable danger so far below. Reportedly, these species of shark hold a huge oily liver that makes up between 18-25% of their body mass. This places them at an almost neutral buoyancy, which allows the shark to maintain its chosen depth near the bottom.
The sofa shark that was found in the waters near Scotland, however, was 6 feet in length and weighed around 132 pounds, deemed a female. What made the discovery even more exciting was that the rare catshark was twice the size of the last ever found around Scottish waters. It was unexpected and entirely accidental.
The scientists quickly weighed and measured it before letting it go into the water. It’s quite an amazing discovery for the team at Marine Scotland. Their last search identified a number of 32 shark species in Scottish waters, with 72 more suggested to roam the deeper depths.
One more has been now added, in the form of the weird-looking sofa shark.
Image source: realmonstrosities.com