SCIENCE

Scary-Looking Goblin Shark Caught Off Australian Coast

02/06/2015 12:13 pm ET | Updated Feb 06, 2015

Fishermen trawling off the coast of New South Wales in Australia last week found a big surprise in their fishing nets: the body of a rare sea creature that's been described as having a "face of a demon," The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The scary-looking creature was identified as a goblin shark, or Mitsukurina owstoni -- a deep-sea species whose appearance has changed little in 70 million years.

"We just winched up the wire and brought the net on and the shark was in the net," Lochlainn Kelly, a 22-year-old fisherman who was part of the team that netted the four-foot shark, told the Herald. "If anything I was pretty excited. I've seen photos of them before but I've never seen one before."

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The shark was to be moved to the Australian Museum in Sydney, where scientists plan to take a closer look at the specimen to learn about the elusive species.

"Right now we are working out the best way to get it here," the museum's fish collection manager, Mark McGrouther, told The Washington Post.

In addition to fang-like teeth, goblin sharks have protruding snouts and movable jaws that can extend forward under the snout or retract to a position under the eye. The shark, pinkish-grey in color, feeds on squid, fish, and crustaceans.

Most specimens of the shark have been collected from the waters off Japan, New Zealand, and southern Africa, and in the Eastern Atlantic and Indian Oceans. But last year, American shrimp fishermen caught an 18-foot-goblin shark off Key West, Florida.

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