Is this dastardly, alien looking creature actually a rare, deep sea shark?
You better be-reef it.
An Australian fisherman posted a photo of the beast of the deep blue — one described as the “stuff of nightmares” by Facebook commenters — after reeling it in from 2,133 feet below the surface, Newsweek reported.
Believing he’d spotted a deep-sea rough skin shark, Sydney fisherman Trapman Bermagui posted the snap on Monday; the image has since gone viral on the social media site. The unusual find sparked replies of sheer fear — and some humor — towards the bug eyed, listless creature from the abyss.
“The deep sea is another planet,” one user wrote.”
“Only [a] mother could love that,” commented another.
But what exactly was Bermagui’s eerie catch of the day? Experts are chomping at the bit to find out.
It may be a roughskin dogfish shark, known also as Centroscymnus owstoni, according to Dean Grubbs, an associate research director at the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory.
“In my deep-sea research, we have caught quite a few of them in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Bahamas,” he told Newsweek. “They are in the family Somniosidae, the Sleeper Sharks, the same family of the Greenland Shark, but obviously a much smaller species.”
Grubbs added that he frequently finds the dogfish at depths between 2,400 to 3,800 feet. Bermagui too chimed in, saying they are “common in depths greater than 600 meters” in his part of the world.
“We catch them in the wintertime usually,” the Aussie fisherman said.
One expert believes the creature to be a deepwater kitefin shark, known also as a Dalatias lata.
“Looks to me like a deepwater kitefin shark, which are known in the waters off Australia,” said director of the California State University Long Beach Shark Lab Christopher Lowe. “However, we discover new species of deepwater shark all the time and many look very similar to each other.”