The vast depths of the ocean contain some of the most mysterious and truly terrifying creatures on earth, many of which have rarely -- if ever -- been captured on camera. It's a fact that keeps many a scaredy cat swimmers from straying too far from shore, and similarly motivates curious divers to keep exploring. Now, thanks to a lucky and fast-acting woman who fits squarely into the latter category, we've scored a brand new (and very rare) up-close look at an exceptionally elusive giant underwater specimen: the megamouth shark.
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Spotted by a self-described "beginner diver" and her instructor off Komodo Island in Indonesia, this 15-foot megamouth shark is one of only a handful to have been filmed ever since it was first discovered off the coast of Hawaii in 1976. It's also allegedly the first and only video footage of one in its natural environment, and one of just over 60 sightings to have ever been confirmed. As you'll notice, it is spectacularly weird looking -- a trait that's earned it the fitting nickname of "alien shark."
Megamouths are known to get up to 17 feet long, can live up to 100 years, and flash their roughly 50 rows of small teeth as they glide underwater. However, it isn't considered a threat to humans, because its classified by the Florida Museum of Natural History as a "filter feeder," subsisting mostly off of krill and other small prey it can easily catch. They typically swim deep -- cruising as far as a mile below the water's surface, and have been spotted primarily off the coast of Japan and Taiwan.
The Museum also notes that they're characterized by having a "soft, flabby body and poor swimming skills," so maybe Michael Phelps has a chance against one of these guys next year.
h/t CBS News, National Geographic
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