Bizarre Sofa Shark Found Off Scotland

sofa-shark
This glorious weirdo, known as a false catshark or sofa shark, was found off the coast of Scotland. Scottish Shark Tagging Programme

Researchers have pulled up a wondrous flabby and rare shark from off the coast of Scotland. This animal is known as a false catshark or sofa shark, or if you want to get scientific about it, Pseudotriakis microdon. It’s only the second time in recorded history that the sofa shark has been spotted in these waters, and the previous sighting took place 15 years ago, scientists from the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme told The Scotsman.

“I was pretty surprised when it landed in our boat,” marine biologist Francis Neat told the publication. “We quickly measured and weighed it before sending it back into the water.... It’s not unique to Scotland but it’s certainly interesting to look at—it’s a big and baggy-looking creature [that] looks a lot like a soft, discarded sofa when it’s just lying there.”

According to the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme, the finding brings the number of shark species found in Scotland’s waters to 72. Just a few years ago, scientists had only counted 32 species.

Pseudotriakis_microdon_1 A photo of a false catshark (Pseudotriakis microdon) ecountered by researchers from the NOAA Ocean Explorer program. NOAA Ocean Explorer

The sofa shark, a female, measured more than 6.5 feet long and weighed nearly 132 pounds (60 kilograms), more than double the weight of the previous find in 2000. The sharks can reach a length of nearly 10 feet, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a science-based conservation organization.

The rare animal has been spotted in a variety of locations throughout the world, from Iceland to New Zealand. It primarily lives off the continental and insular slopes at depths of 650 to 6,200 feet (200 to 1,890 meters), according to the IUCN. One reason that the creature is so uncommon is that it usually produces a maximum of two embryos at a time and takes many years to reach sexual maturity.

sofa-shark-Pseudotriakis-Microdon Another view of the sofa shark, or false catshark. CSIRO National Fish Collection