The Joy of Museums

Finding Beauty & Meaning in Museums

Megamouth Shark

WA Maritime Museum - Joy of Museums - Megamouth Shark

The Megamouth Shark is a species of deepwater shark first discovery in 1976. It is rarely seen by humans and is the smallest filter-feeding sharks alongside the whale shark and basking shark.  The first megamouth was captured in 1976 about 25 miles off the coast of Hawaii, when it became entangled in the sea anchor of United States Navy ship.

It swims with its enormous mouth wide open, filtering water for plankton and jellyfish. It is distinctive for its large head with rubbery lips. It is so unlike any other type of shark that it is usually considered to be the sole extant species in its distinct family. Megamouth sharks have soft bodies, flabby muscles and skeletons that are poorly calcified. These features help megamouth sharks to swim very slowly without sinking.

WA Maritime Museum - Joy of Museums - Megamouth Shark Tank

This specimen of a rare Megamouth Shark caused a sensation when it washed up dead on a Mandurah beach in Perth, Australia in 1988. It was only the third known specimen to be recorded worldwide and the first from the Indian Ocean. The specimen was carefully stored a deep freezer before it was preserved in this purpose built tank.

Essential Facts:

  • Name:                           Megamouth Shark (Megachasma Pelagios)
  • Discovered:                 1988
  • Discovery Location:  Mandurah beach in Perth, Australia
  • Weight:                        700kg
  • Length:                         5.15 meters
  • Museum:                      WA Maritime Museum


“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”
William James



Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons