Shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico this week got quite a rare, ugly surprise when they pulled up their nets off the coast of Key West.
Mixed in with their normal haul was an 18-foot goblin shark, a grotesque, prehistoric-looking animal that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says is only the second recorded catch ever in the Gulf of Mexico — and first in 10 years.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the shrimpers made the extremely rare catch April 19 in about 2,000 feet of water, but only reported to NOAA this week.
They released the shark, and it swam away.
“I didn’t get the tape measure out because that thing’s got some wicked teeth, they could do some damage,” fisherman Carl Moore told the Chronicle.
“The guys at NOAA said I’m probably one of only 10 people who’ve seen one of those alive.”
NOAA biologists say they are working with the fisherman to learn more about the shark, generally a deep-water species.
The pink shark, called a “living fossil” because of its prehistoric look, features a long, flat snout, sharp teeth, and a jaw that juts out of its mouth to catch prey.