Two megamouth sharks have been spotted off San Diego in an extremely rare sighting.
David Stabile posted videos of the two sharksconsidered a mating couple, on Twitter.
“This weekend my friends [Val Costescu and Andrew Chang] and I went fishing off San Diego and filmed two of the most elusive sharks on this planet. Here are some cool pictures I took of the two megamouth sharks,” Stabile tweeted.
Megamouth sharks, which can grow up to 18 feet long, are very rarely seen in the wild: According to the Florida Museum, there have only been a total of 269 confirmed sightings of megamouth sharks worldwide, not counting both filmed off San Diego this week.
“It may be a mating pair: the second video shows a male (claspers clearly visible) with a damaged left pectoral fin; the first video is of a scarred shark which could be a female (no clasps visible),” Alisa Schulman-Janiger, a research associate at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, said in a Facebook post sharing the videos.
Megamouth sharks are typically found in deep waters, ranging from the surface to a depth of 15,000 feet. Although named for their characteristic large mouth, bigmouth sharks are filter feeders, swimming with their mouths open to harvest plankton floating in the water.
In the few data collected by tracking individuals of this species, researchers have found that they move incredibly slowly, only moving at speeds between 0.93 and 1.30 mph.
They have also been observed to move up and down in the water column with sunrise and sunset, which is a pattern seen in other marine animals following the movement of plankton through the water column.
“They spend the majority of their time in deep water away from shore,” Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher Dovi Kacev told CBS8. “There are still a lot of unknowns about them in terms of where they spend their time because we see them so rarely.”
Due to their rarity, they were not discovered until 1976, when one was entangled in a sea anchor near Hawaii. Since then they have been seen sporadically, with Taiwan and the Philippines having the highest number of sightings.
The megamouth is listed as “Least Concern by the IUCN Red List, mainly due to lack of population data. They sometimes wash up dead on beaches: in June this year, one washed up in the Philippines, potentially after getting tangled in a fishing net. .
“Two bigmouth sharks were caught in a gillnet off San Diego in 2018, and the last documented off the US coast was also off San Diego (2019); some believe southern California could be a breeding ground for them,” Schulman-Janiger said in his “WOWZA!”
Updated 9/16/22 1:05 PM EDT: This article has been updated to change the source of the video.