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 commenters — after reeling it in from 2,133 feet below the surface, Newsweek reported.
Believing he’d spotted a deep-sea roughskin shark, Sydney fisherman Trapman Bermagui posted a snap of the sea lurker on Facebook Monday, and the image has since viral. The unusual find sparked replies of sheer fear — and some humor — toward 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 Florida State University’s 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 and 3,800 feet. Bermagui, too, chimed in, saying the sharks 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 deep-water kitefin shark, officially the Dalatias licha.
“Looks to me like a deep-water kitefin shark, which are known in the waters off Australia,” said Christopher Lowe, director of California State University at Long Beach’s Shark Lab. “However, we discover new species of deep-water shark all the time, and many look very similar to each other.”