Rare shark caught off Scottish coast won't win any beauty pageants

Scientists catch an unusual shark that looks like a cross between a blobfish and an electric eel. No wonder the poor species doesn't go out in public much.

Danny Gallagher
CNET freelancer Danny Gallagher has contributed to Cracked.com, Mental Floss, Maxim, Break.com, Mandatory, Jackbox Games, Geeks Who Drink and many, many other publications in his never-ending quest to bring the world's productivity to a screeching halt. He lives and works in Dallas. Email Danny.
Danny Gallagher
2 min read

The false catshark sounds like the name of an indie rock group, but it's actually a very rare breed of ground shark. When you see how ugly it is, you'll understand why it doesn't like to show its face very often.

But it just has. A group of marine biologists working for the Scottish government agency Marine Scotland recently reeled in the rare shark during a deep-sea survey off the west coast of Scotland, according to the newspaper The Scotsman. The false catshark is a female that's approximately 6.5 feet (2 meters) long and weighs just under 132.2 pounds (60 kilograms).

False catsharks have a unique face that resembles the blobfish. It's also known as the "sofa shark" because of its large, billowy shape. Yeah, something tells me trying to sit on any breed of shark isn't a good idea.

Behold the false catshark, a rare breed of shark also known as a sofa shark or keel-dorsal shark. Scottish Shark Tagging Programme

This deep-water shark that's also known as a keel-dorsal shark can live up to 6,200 feet (1,890 meters) below the surface of the ocean and occasionally makes an appearance on the continental shelves, the underwater land mass that extends from a continent and creates a shallow area of water.

They can grow up to just over 9.5 feet (2.8 meters) in length and are rarely seen in the wild, so their population totals are not well known, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.

What scientists do know about this unusual shark species, however, is pretty astounding. For instance, the embryos of the false catshark are oophagous, meaning they eat the eggs their mother produces while still in the womb. I should have issued a warning about not eating omelet while reading this story.

The strange eating habits continue into sharks' adult lives. A study published in the scientific journal Copeia in 1992 surveyed the stomach contents of several false catsharks. They didn't just find the usual assortment of sea creatures such as squids, octopi and other sharks but they also found some "human garbage" including potatoes, a pear, a plastic bag and a soft drink can. Maybe we should start calling the creature the "landfill shark" as well.