Its bulging, glassy eyes peer eerily at the camera. Its mouth curls upward, revealing a terrifying smile. Its teeth are sharp and tiny.
The clown-like shark that looks more like a nightmare than a fish was recently caught in Australia – and people have questions.
Fisherman Trapman Bermagui posted a photo of the shark on Facebook Monday, drawing thousands of reactions from social media users.
“The face of a deep sea rough skin shark,” the post reads, noting that the shark was found 650 meters (about 2,132 feet) below sea level. He said it was caught on a line.
Some people said that’s a face only a mother could love. Others who couldn’t stop looking at that toothy grin joked maybe it just had braces removed.
Bermagui told USA TODAY that deep water sharks are common on the southeast coast of Australia, usually in water deeper than about 1,312 feet. But because the water is so deep, fishermen don’t often catch these types of sharks, he said.
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Some social media users said it’s a cookie cutter shark, but the fisherman posted a photo of a cookie cutter shark and said the most recent one looks different. According to Bermagui, the most recent catch weighs about 33 pounds and is 5 feet long.
He said another name for the rough skin shark is the endeavor dogfish, and their livers are sold for just as much as the shark themselves – around $5 a kilo, or about two pounds.
The fisherman who posted the shark photo said there are rules allowing a small catch of the sharks weekly that includes about a dozen different species.
If it is an endeavor dogfish, it is listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The organization is known as one of the most comprehensive resources on extinction risks for animals, fungi and plants.
According to the IUCN, endeavor dogfish typically measure 75 to 89 centimeters. The maximum recorded length for an endeavor dogfish is just over 43 inches, while the maximum published weight is 7.3 kilograms, or about 16 pounds.
“Across the regions, the Endeavor Dogfish was estimated and suspected to be declining in parts of its range (southeast Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Andaman Islands) and suspected to be stable in Japan,” the IUCN reported in 2020. “The species has refuge across part of Western Australia and off Northeast Australia, and off the west Pacific Islands where there are no known deep-water fisheries.”
But one thing is for sure.
“The deep sea is another planet down there,” wrote one Facebook user, Steve Burkett. “Wild looking creatures.”
Contributing: Mike Snider
Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY’s NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia – the 757 – and loves all things horror, witches, Christmas, and food. Follow her on Twitter at @Saleen_Martin or email her at email@example.com.