Two rare megamouth sharks have been spotted together and filmed by fishermen off the coast of San Diego, California.
David Stabile, Val Costescu and Andrew Chang were fishing approximately 30 miles offshore when the two sharks approached their boat. The sharks were captured on film by Mr Stabile, who posted the results on his Twitter account:
‘This weekend my friends and I went fishing off the coast of San Diego and videotaped two of the most elusive sharks on this planet,’ wrote Mr Stabile. ‘Here’s some cool footage I took of the two Megamouth Sharks.’
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Megamouth sharks (Megachasma pelagios) are among the most elusive of large shark species. Inhabiting a depth range of up to 1,200m and reaching up to 7m in length, they are one of only three species of filter-feeding sharks, together with the better-known and much more commonly sighted whale shark and basking shark.
Megamouths were first described as recently as 1976, since when there have been fewer than 300 known sightings of the shark, only around 120 of which were of living animals.
The bulk of the world’s megamouth sightings have occurred off the shores of Hualien County, Taiwan, although most of these were dead sharks caught as bycatch in drift nets. A catch-and-report system has been implemented in the area since 2013.
The sharks have also been repeatedly spotted in Japanese and Philippine waters, and although less common, a handful of sightings have previously been reported off the coast of San Diego.
As well as the latest sighting being all the more extraordinary due to the fact that there are two sharks present – potentially the first time two megamouth sharks have ever been observed together – scientists have speculated that this may represent courtship behaviour.
‘This may be a mating pair,’ said Alison Schulman-Janiger, a research associate at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, in a Facebook post. ‘The second video shows a male (clasper clearly visible) with a damaged left pectoral fin; the first video is of a scarred shark that may be a female (no visible claspers).’
The shark’s behaviour has led some scientists to speculate that southern California may be a breeding area for them, according to Ms Schulman-Janiger.