Mystery Deep Sea Shark With Bulging Eyes and Teeth Caught by Fisherman

A striking deep-sea shark with protruding teeth and large eyes has been caught by a fisherman in Australia, prompting discussion over what species the mysterious animal belongs to.

On September 12, Facebook user Trapman Bermagui, a Sydney-based fisherman, posted a photo of what he said was "the face of a deep sea shark" that had been caught at a depth of 650 meters (2,133 feet) underwater.

The shark has a distinctive appearance with rough-looking skin, a pointed nose, large eyes and a protruding set of sharp teeth.

Within two days the post had gained over 250 comments and around 1,400 likes. "Looks very prehistoric," wrote one user. "Wow, what a critter," wrote another.

The face of a deep sea rough skin shark. All the way from 650m.

Several people commented that the shark appeared to be a 'cookiecutter' shark, a small cigar-sharped shark with a bulbous snout and distinctive lips.

However, speaking to Newsweek via Facebook, Bermagui had another explanation. "Totally not a cookiecutter," he said. "It's a rough skin shark, also known as a species of endeavor dog shark.

"These sharks are common in depths greater than 600 meters. We catch them in the wintertime usually."

Shark
A cropped version of the deep sea shark photo by Facebook user and fisherman Trapman Bermagui on September 12, 2022. The photo sparked discussion about what sort of species the shark is. Trapman Bermagui/Facebook

Dean Grubbs, associate director of research at the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory, also weighed in. He told Newsweek the species appears to be Centroscymnus owstoni, also called the roughskin dogfish.

"In my deep-sea research, we have caught quite a few of them in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Bahamas.

"Ours have come from depths of 740 to 1160 meters (~2,400 to 3,800 feet), so a bit deeper than this report. They are in the family Somniosidae, the Sleeper Sharks, the same family of the Greenland Shark, but obviously a much smaller species."

According to a description of this species on the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute website, the roughskin dogfish has a short mouth and thick lips, reaches a size of 120 centimeters (approximately 4 feet) and they are generally found at depths of up to 4,920 feet (1,500 meters).

Christopher Lowe, professor and director of the California State University Long Beach Shark Lab, offered a different view. "Looks to me like a deepwater kitefin shark, which are known in the waters off Australia," he said, though he noted he could not see the whole body or size of the shark.

"It looks like Dalatias lata to me; however, we discover new species of deepwater shark all the time and many look very similar to each other."

An illustration of this shark available on the Shark Research Institute's website does bear a strong resemblance to the one shown on Facebook, with large eyes, thick lips and a blunt snout. The institute said these sharks also prefer deep waters, hovering near the seafloor at depths of up to 1,800 meters (4,950 feet) in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.

Whatever the species, the striking shark photo shows the sea is a mysterious and varied place. "The deep sea is another planet down there," one Facebook user wrote.