Goblin Shark Facts

Goblin Shark Profile

This rare species of deep-sea shark is called the Goblin Shark (Mitsukurina owstoni). It comes from the Mitsukurinidae family which dates back over 125-million years. In fact, the Goblin Shark happens to be the only extant representative of that family.

The shark has a pink skin and a very distinct profile that features an elongated, flattened snout. Within it are protruding jaws, that are filled with teeth that resemble nails.

Goblin Shark Facts

Goblin Shark Facts Overview

Habitat: Deep-sea
Location: Atlantic, Pacific & Indian Oceans. But most commonly found off the coasts of Japan.
Lifespan: 30 – 35 Years
Size: 9.8 – 20 ft (3 to 6 m)
Weight: 330 – 460 pounds (150 – 210 kg)
Color: Pink, tan and almost white grey
Diet: Fish, such as rattails and dragonfishes as well as cephalopods and crustaceans.
Predators: Other sharks (like the blue shark)
Top Speed: 20 kph (15 mph)
No. of Species:
1
Conservation Status:
Least concern

The Goblin Shark possesses numerous unusual characteristics that help to describe what the creature is like. For instance, it has a flabby body with small fins which hints that it is very likely sluggish in movement. In fact, you would be right if you said the Goblin Shark was a bottom feeder as most of its food comes from the sea floor and the middle of the water column. They particularly like crustaceans, cephalopods and teleost fish.

The snout of the Goblin Shark contains sensory nerves that aid it in finding food as the nerves can sense even the tiniest of electrical fields produced by food sources when they are nearby.

Interesting Goblin Shark Facts

1. The Goblin Shark shrinks when it gets older.

The long, flat snout that the Goblin Shark has will actually decrease in length proportionally with age.

2. The Goblin Shark has many, many teeth arranged in multiple rows.

Well, when you break it down, this shark has a mouthful of teeth. The upper jaw contains anywhere between 35 and 53 rows of teeth. Then there’s the lower jaw which has 31 to 62 rows of teeth.

3. With so many teeth, the Goblin Shark has different types that perform different tasks.

The teeth located in the main part of the jaw are narrow and long and are even more so the closer they are to the midpoint of the jaw. These teeth are also finely grooved lengthwise. The teeth in the rear rows located closer to the corners of the jaw are smaller in size and have a flattened shape. These are used for crushing. All teeth vary in length and width throughout the massive number of rows.

4. The Goblin Shark has an unusual nickname.

As the family that this odd looking shark comes from can be traced back over several million years, the Goblin Shark is also known as the Living Fossil.

5. The Goblin Shark is not restricted to just one part of the world.

In fact, there have been Goblin Sharks caught in all three major oceans which shows that they have a wide distribution.

6. This is a truly deep sea animal.

The Goblin Shark has been caught in depths of between 890 and 3,150 feet and as deep as 4,300 feet. A Goblin Shark tooth has been located lodged in an undersea cable at a depth of 4,490 feet. Adults are known to inhabit the deeper waters than juveniles and there have been reports of the odd Goblin Shark found in shallow inshore waters of 130 feet. The odd one has also been caught in fishing nets in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Sri Lanka region.

7. The Goblin Shark diet sometimes includes manmade items.

Sadly, there has been evidence of Goblin Sharks eating garbage that is found near the ocean floor – the natural habitat of this water creature.

8. The Goblin Shark has an unusual hunting method.

Due to the fact that this is not a very fast swimmer, with poor eyesight, the Goblin Shark has devised a hunting method that has been described as ambush predatory. The fact that the shark has flesh that is low in density and has a large oily liver, they are neutrally buoyant. This means that a Goblin Shark can silently drift towards a snack without making much in the way of movements that would otherwise tip off the prey that it was on its way. As soon as the target of the Goblin Shark is in range, the strangely positioned jaws in its mouth can snap forward which captures the unsuspecting fish or other marine life that the shark dines on.

9. There is not much known about the Goblin Shark reproductive cycle.

As it turns out, no pregnant Goblin Sharks have ever been discovered which makes researching the reproduction of this ancient animal difficult to do. However, researchers tend to believe that the characteristics of reproduction will probably be much the same as they are for other mackerel sharks. This means there would be small litter sizes and that the embryos would grow during gestation. Birth size of the young sharks would probably be in the range of 32-inches in length. Males reach sexual maturity when they get to a length of just over 8-feet.

10. The Goblin Shark poses no danger to humans.

As these creatures are deep sea residents, with few coming into shallower waters, Goblin Sharks are not considered a threat to humans. However, the opposite is true. The International Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has the Goblin Shark listed under the category of Least Concern. Although that is a good sign, with the habitat of the Goblin Shark slowly filling with more and more human garbage, that may change. Fishing Goblin Sharks will also contribute to this as they have become quite valuable to collectors. The meat can be dried and salted and the jaws are prized by many. With few exceptions, captures of the Goblin Shark are isolated although in April 2003 over 100 of them were caught near Taiwan. The cause of the incident is unclear although recent earthquake activity in the region may have contributed to the mass appearance of the Goblin Shark, which would have been a rather rare occasion. In fishery numbers, stray Goblin Sharks are caught but not in huge numbers. A few juveniles are routinely caught in some parts of the world with adults being caught in the single digits on an annual basis. These sharks are accidental captures.

Goblin Shark Fact-File Summary

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Order: Lamniformes
Family: Mitsukurinidae
Genus: Mitsukurina
Species Name:
M. Owstoni