BREAKING NEWS Federal government supplying Alabama with more than one million rapid coronavirus tests Full Story
BREAKING NEWS One person killed in wreck in Lauderdale County Full Story

A rare giant shark now sits in an ice block at the Smithsonian, allowing researchers to hopefully unravel clues about its evolution

Researchers are hoping to unravel the mystery around one of the rarest sharks in the sea -- the megamouth.As it's nickname suggests the megamouth,...

Posted: Aug 11, 2020 10:48 PM
Updated: Aug 12, 2020 2:30 PM

Researchers are hoping to unravel the mystery around one of the rarest sharks in the sea -- the megamouth.

As it's nickname suggests the megamouth, Megachasma pelagios, is known for having a large mouth on a rounded head and they are thought to grow as long as 17 feet, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History. There has only been around 70 confirmed sightings of the elusive shark in the world, according to the museum.

Now, a megamouth that was captured by fishers off the coast of Taiwan in 2018 is sitting on a gigantic block of ice at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History Support Center. The Smithsonian released the news on Tuesday through an article in their magazine.

'When it comes to sharks, they're probably one of the most unique and weird-looking species,' Paul Clerkin, a graduate researcher at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, said in the article.

'Their mouth just keeps opening and their upper jaw closes like a convertible hood.'

The shark can reach weights of 2,600 pounds and is considered the smallest of the three species of filter-feeding sharks, behind the whale shark and the basking shark, according to conservation group Oceana. The first known megamouth was accidentally discovered by the US Navy in 1976 in the waters of Hawai'i.

The crew used two parachute-like sea anchors that reach the depths of 500 feet, according to the state's Department of Land and Natural Resources. When the anchors were hauled up, they discovered a 1,500 pound megamouth was entangled in the lines. It did not survive.

Since then, confirmed sightings of the shark have occurred all over the world in the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian oceans, according to Florida Museum of Natural History.

Discovering clues about the shark's evolution

Clerkin, who collected Smithsonian's new specimen in Taiwan, will collaborate with other researchers to unravel clues behind this mysterious animal's life. But they will be working against the clock since the specimen will begin to decay.

'Understanding the life history of sharks is important, especially because we don't know their full role in marine ecosystems or how sensitive they are to human-made pressures,' Clerking said. 'They're a big influence on the world.'

After research is complete, the shark will be preserved with formaldehyde and then ethyl alcohol for long term storage, according to the Smithsonian. It will join the over six million other specimens in the museum's Division of Fishes' collections.

'Even if we never ever collect one again, we'll still know that megamouth sharks existed on Earth at this time,' Dr. Lynne Parenti, the Curator of Indo-Pacific Freshwater and Coastal Fishes at the museum, said in the article. 'We're preserving this for everyone for what it shows about basic biodiversity. It could also answer questions that haven't been asked yet.'

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 66°
Florence
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 70°
Fayetteville
Scattered Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 65°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 65°
Scottsboro
Few Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 63°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 136549

Reported Deaths: 2378
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19833350
Mobile13471292
Montgomery8865184
Tuscaloosa8744118
Madison797878
Shelby604349
Lee594560
Baldwin558850
Marshall396743
Calhoun354844
Etowah354045
Morgan332728
Houston293521
Elmore269148
DeKalb243521
St. Clair234036
Walker233084
Talladega217729
Limestone213520
Cullman191120
Dallas179326
Franklin179029
Autauga178525
Russell17653
Lauderdale174033
Colbert167526
Blount161815
Escambia161424
Chilton159330
Jackson158911
Covington140327
Dale139944
Coffee13656
Pike120510
Chambers117242
Tallapoosa116685
Clarke110416
Marion97129
Butler91439
Barbour8867
Winston74512
Marengo72620
Pickens66814
Randolph66013
Bibb65710
Lowndes65727
Hale64928
Geneva6384
Lawrence62823
Cherokee61413
Bullock60714
Clay5928
Monroe5908
Washington56113
Crenshaw54232
Perry5426
Conecuh53711
Wilcox53211
Henry5085
Macon48318
Fayette4678
Sumter43819
Cleburne3895
Lamar3772
Choctaw35112
Greene30315
Coosa1723
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 193732

Reported Deaths: 2389
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby31034460
Davidson26685307
Hamilton956495
Knox955080
Rutherford940890
Williamson534136
Sumner488398
Wilson353845
Putnam335541
Montgomery312344
Unassigned30476
Out of TN299727
Bradley296717
Madison294364
Sevier264715
Blount254824
Maury242024
Washington233736
Robertson223135
Sullivan222033
Hamblen194326
Tipton183619
Gibson171323
Trousdale16687
Hardeman158326
Wayne15025
Dyer140314
Bedford137017
Dickson127715
Coffee125513
Cumberland121718
Weakley121219
Fayette120619
Anderson120213
Obion120011
Henderson119124
Loudon11906
Carter117928
Greene116644
McMinn115025
Jefferson113414
Warren10787
Lawrence107713
Macon106821
Monroe105818
Hardin105216
Lauderdale99516
Haywood99221
Franklin98910
Lake9252
McNairy91818
Roane9096
Carroll90520
Bledsoe8624
Rhea85013
White8499
Hawkins82318
Cheatham81910
Marshall7805
Overton7666
Cocke75310
Smith73411
Johnson7292
Chester64610
Giles63717
Henry6289
Lincoln6281
Hickman5998
DeKalb57214
Crockett54419
Marion5388
Decatur5317
Fentress5273
Campbell4564
Claiborne4425
Polk40610
Grainger3863
Union3712
Benton3399
Jackson3325
Morgan3213
Grundy3126
Cannon2950
Unicoi2881
Humphreys2633
Sequatchie2421
Clay2345
Houston2283
Meigs2283
Stewart2192
Scott2182
Lewis2071
Moore1801
Van Buren1660
Perry1530
Pickett1232
Hancock1073

Community Events