When people hear the word “shark” they likely picture a great white thanks to the species’ starring role in “Jaws”. And while many sharks do have the standard characteristics we have come to expect, many species of sharks are, quite frankly, weird. Here are some of the weirdest shark species hanging out in the world’s oceans.
Great whites may have made the public afraid to go to the beach, but take one look at a goblin shark and it’s likely to haunt your nightmares for years to come. With a nose like pinocchio after a week’s worth of lies and a jaw that looks like it is actively trying to escape the skeleton it’s attached to, this species of shark is just plain ugly. Considered a “living fossil” these sharks have only been seen about 50 times since their discovery in 1897 and thank goodness for that because this is a face that would turn any underwater excursion into a lesson in terror.
This shark species cruises around the ocean looking like an octogenarian with their dentures removed. Megamouth sharks swim with their enormous mouths open, filtering water for plankton and jellyfish. Discovered in 1976, these sharks are very rare; only around 100 have ever been caught or observed. Not much is known about this rare species but its Wikipedia page gives it a rather pathetic characterization: “A relatively poor swimmer, the megamouth has a soft, flabby body and lacks caudal keels”. Poor Swimmer, flabby body and no caudal keels? Sounds like I’ve found my new spirit animal.
A relative of the Megamouth shark, the basking shark is similarly endowed with a mind-blowingly large mouth. Growing to an average of 26 feet, these sharks swim with their 3 ½ foot mouth wide-open in order to filter zooplankton and invertebrates. To say that this looks bizarre would be a massive understatement. It looks like a normal, albeit stupid, shark tried to swallow a laundry basket that subsequently got stuck in its mouth. Being the second-largest living shark species only makes the bizarre mouth more disconcerting. On a smaller fish, it would be an interesting feature, on the 5.2-ton basking shark, it’s nothing short of terrifying.
Besides being incredibly fun to say, wobbegong is also a name given to 12 species of sharks. Due to the ornate patterns on their backs, these are also referred to as carpet sharks, but that is way less fun to say so we’re going to stick with wobbegong. Unlike most sharks, wobbegongs use their back patterns to camouflage into the ocean floor, snatching up any prey that wanders too close. A series of lobes resembling weeds are attached to their mouths, helping them lure fish and adding to the overall weirdness of this wonderfully named species.