The two-metre long fish – known as a frilled shark – was captured near Lakes Entrance in Victoria, reports the Daily Mirror.
The species, whose ancestry dates back 80 million years, is known as the ‘living fossil’.
“I’ve been at sea for 30 years and I’ve never seen a shark look like that,” skipper David Guillot told Fairfax Radio on Wednesday. The Sydney Morning Herald reported Guillot found the creature while fishing near Lakes Entrance in southeastern Victoria. Guillot continued: “The head on it was like something out of a horror movie. It was quite horrific looking. … It was quite scary actually.”
Simon Boag, from the South East Trawl Fishing Association, said it was the first time in living memory that a frilled shark had been sighted.
“We couldn’t find a fisherman who had ever seen one before,” he said.
“It does look 80 million years old. It looks prehistoric, it looks like it’s from another time!”
He said local fishermen were left scratching their heads at the sight of the two-metre-long creature, whose head and body resemble an eel, but whose tail is more reminiscent of a shark.
The CSIRO confirmed it to be a frilled shark, and while the species is known to the scientific community, it was a nonetheless rare and bizarre find for local fishermen.
“It has 300 teeth over 25 rows, so once you’re in that mouth, you’re not coming out,” Mr Boag said.
Video- ITV News Wednesday January 24-2007 A species of shark rarely seen alive because its natural habitat is about 2,000 feet under the sea was captured on film by staff at a Japanese marine park this week.
“Good for dentists, but it is a freaky thing. I don’t think you would want to show it to little children before they went to bed.”
The species has been found as deep as 1,500 metres, but generally it lives in waters shallower than 1,200 metres.
Mr Boag said this frilled shark was caught at 700 metres, but there should not be any concern about repeat catches.
“Almost all the grounds deeper than 700 metres are closed to trawling, so there wouldn’t be any pressure on them and there’d be very few caught,” he said.
“This guy was just unlucky.”
It is now believed the shark has been sold, reports the Mirror.
Seldom Seen By People
The frilled shark has seldom been encountered alive, and thus poses no danger to humans (though scientists have accidentally cut themselves examining its teeth).
On August 27, 2004, the first observation of this terifying looking fish in its natural habitat was made by the ROV Johnson Sea Link II, on the Blake Plateau off the southeastern United States.
On January 21, 2007, a Japanese fisherman discovered a 1.6 m (5.2 ft) long female alive at the surface, perhaps there because of illness or weakness from the warm water. It was brought to Awashima Marine Park in Shizuoka, where it died after a few hours.
Garman, and numerous authors since, have advanced the frilled shark as an explanation for sea serpent sightings. Because of the shark’s modest size, some cryptozoologists have posited the existence of a giant relative, particularly as larger Chlamydoselachus species are known from the fossil record
In December 2014, trawler skipper David Guillot caught a 1.5 metre frilled shark while ‘fishing in water more than a kilometre deep near Lakes Entrance’, in Victoria, Australia. The shark was taken to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation where its identification was confirmed.