Rare Shark Captured - and Eaten! - in the Philippines

How's this for an "all you can eat" seafood dinner – the World Wildlife Fund is reporting that a group of Philippine fisherman caught one of the rarest sharks on the planet, a 13-foot-long megamouth shark, and then (against the wishes of the WWF) ate it.

Megamouth sharks are seen so infrequently that scientists record every sighting and assign it a number. This was only the 41st recorded time that a megamouth has been viewed by human eyes. The species was first spotted off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii in 1976 and the discovery was considered by many marine biologists to be the most important of the century. The shark was so different from known species that scientists were forced to create a new family and genus just so they could classify it. It's not known how many megamouth sharks exist in the wild today because so few have been studied that the data is insufficient to draw any conclusions.

Despite their immense size, megamouth sharks pose very little threat to humans. Their mouths are several feet wide, but they are filled with tiny teeth. Megamouth sharks feed on small marine animals like shrimp larvae.

Donsol, the coastal town in the Philippines where the fishermen who caught the shark reside, actually has a reputation for conservation. The locals had been killing and eating the whale sharks which fed nearby, but they were recently convinced by wildlife conservationists to stop this practice (the ecotourism dollars that started rolling in once the town began billing itself as the whale shark capital of the world certainly helped with the convincing).

This particular megamouth shark died after it was captured. The fishermen were encouraged not to consume the carcass, but they refused to pass up dining on what they consider to be a delicacy.

For those wondering, the shark was sautéed in coconut milk.

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