The elusive Megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) is such an uncommon sight that only 42 confirmed reports of this fish exists since the species was first scientifically described in 1976.

The most recent report, the 42nd one, comes from a group of Philippine fishermen from the city of Donsol who accidently caught a four-metre long specimen while trawling for mackerel.

250px Mega mouth shark specimen Rare Megamouth shark found in pot with milk, malunggay leaves and chilli
Mega mouth shark exhibited at the Aburatsubo Marine

Worldwide Fund for Nature project manager Elson Aca examined the fish and identified it as a megamouth shark. The shark weighed an estimated 500 kg and was captured at a depth of 200 metres off the eastern coast of Burias Isle. This wasn’t the shark’s first encounter with fishing gear; it had scars on its face from gill nets.

Soon after being landed at Barangay Dancalan in Donsol, the shark died. Aca entreated the fishermen not to butcher the shark, but the fishermen had a more traditional than scientific approach to caught fish and promptly cooked it with coconut milk, malunggay leaves and chilli to make a Philipine dish known as kinunot.

According to Aca, the the Donsol-Masbate region deserve more attention from conversationalists.

The presence of two of the world’s three filter feeding sharks warrants special attention for the Donsol-Masbate region”, Aca said. “Whale and megamouth sharks, manta rays, dolphins and other charismatic giants indicate that the region’s ecosystem is still relatively healthy. By protecting megafauna, we help maintain the dynamic balance of our seas, and ensure the entire ecosystem’s resilience and natural productivity.”