Video: Extremely Rare Megamouth Shark Filmed by Diver Off Indonesia’s Komodo Island

Megamouth shark
Megamouth shark. FLMNH Ichtyology

Extremely rare footage of a megamouth shark has been captured off the coast of Indonesia. British diver Penny Bielich was diving at the Gili Lawa Laut off Komodo Island when the megamouth shark passed over her. Her diving partner, Heikki Innanen, told her to get her camera and she managed to film the shark as it swam by.

In the 26 second clip, you can see the large shark swim past—seemingly unperturbed by Bielich’s presence—before it disappears into the distance.

Megamouth sharks are elusive creatures, with scientists having only ever encountered 102 specimens. While the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as being of least concern, meaning it is not considered to be under threat in any way, this listing somewhat down how little we know about it.

Scientists believe it normally lives around 1,500 meters (0.9 miles) under the surface of the ocean. “It is known from only 102 specimens (as of August 2015), and therefore appears to be very rarely encountered throughout its range, yet likely to be increasingly taken as bycatch in oceanic and offshore fisheries,” the IUCN says. “Further research on its ecology and habitat use are required to better understand this species and the potential effects of fishing.

“Based on its wide range, at present it is assessed as Least Concern. Its increasing frequency of capture in Asia, particularly Taiwan, and its rarity and intrinsic sensitivity to overexploitation mean that captures in fisheries should be tracked carefully to ensure this species does not become threatened in the near future.”

Megamouth sharks are named so because of their huge heads and mouths. They normally grow to between 13 and 18 feet and are characterized by their bulbous heads and 50 rows of teeth. Like whale sharks and basking sharks, megamouths are filter feeding sharks. Their diet mostly consists of plankton, jellyfish and small shrimp.