Tell Us Your Favourite “Unusual” Shark (and win a T-shirt!)

Ask most people to name a shark species and there’s a good chance they’ll say the great white – a few might mention the hammerhead, or maybe a bull or tiger shark. But how many would say the goblin shark, or the cookie-cutter, or even the basking shark?

The truth is that there is a bewildering and varied range of shark species in the oceans – and most of them do not conform to the Jaws-influenced stereotype of what a shark should behave or look or like.

Frilled shark

Frilled shark – image by Citron

Take, for example, the rarely observed frilled shark. This species, which has a long eel-like body and grows to around 2 metres, derives its name from its six pairs of frilly gill slits, the first of which meet under its throat. The frilled shark is also regarded as a “living fossil” due to its ancient ancestry as its lineage dating back to the Late Cretaceous and perhaps even to the Late Jurassic.

And what about the cookie-cutter shark? This little critter only reaches about 50 cms in length but specialises in taking cookie sized bites out of larger fish and whales – it has even been known to tackle the occassional nuclear submarine!

Contrast that with the huge and graceful whale shark which lives mainly by filtering plankton and can live to around 70 years old (when allowed to do so by humans). Whale sharks are famed for being gentle giants and despite growing to sizes to rival any dinosaur, they behave in a very docile manner around humans.

Goblin shark

Goblin shark, showing protrusible jaw. Image: Dianne Bray / Museum Victoria

One of the strangest looking sharks must be the rarely observed goblin shark (pictured left). It has a protrusible jaw, which, when feeding, can extend out almost to the end of its snout, and has led to comparisons with the monster featured in the Alien movies.

These are just a few of the hundreds of shark species. Other unusual ones are the wobbegong, nurse shark, thresher shark, basking shark… and, well, you know what? Every shark is unique and special in its own way! So why don’t you tell us what your favourite shark is, and why? To give readers that little extra incentive (in case you needed it!), we’ll give away one of the brand new “Bycatch is ecocide” T-shirts to the person who gives the best answer.

Comments

  1. Helga Cookson says:

    The new species of bamboo shark discovered in Weda, Halmahera, definitely a likeable species!

  2. SAND SHARK

  3. Allan Rios says:

    Sawfish!

  4. Angiataira says:

    I was going to say Cookie Cutter shark, but you listed it. They are small but bite big. Hunt at night and leave the kewlest round bite mark (i am deranged yes lol). I was really impressed with them the 1st time I read about them online.

  5. Port Jackson sharks, because when I was a child, that was the first species what I saw in real life in a marine aquarium. My love of sharks began when I was 4 years old, but after that moment I decided that one day I’ll be a shark biologist. :-)

  6. My favorite “unusual” shark is the cookiecutter, it’s small but a bit mean and is even bioluminescent. And lately I talked with a Facebook friend on the chat and he had looked through my “likes” and said he found them a bit worrisome as there was “Cannibalism” next to “koekjessnijder”, which means cookiecutter in Dutch (which my friend understood). I informed him that this is a species of shark at which he probably felt some relief since my obsession with sharks is already widely known. :)

  7. Ethan Winter says:

    You want unusual? How about Florence, the world’s only vegetarian shark!

  8. Tatjana Baake says:

    My favourites are all you named (Goblin Shark and all other wonderful sharkpeople!), but one of them are so beautiful and fascinating to me: The Chlamydoselachus anguineus! I love this one – oh, I love all sharks, all of them are so wonderful and special! But I made here a decision… If I could I would name all! The Chlamydoselachus anguineus is so beautiful and wonderful and… I simply love him! There is nothing more to say! I love sharks since I was a child! They are absolutely perfect and so amazing! If I can see a TV-Report of these wonderful creatures it can drive me to tears why they are so – Awwww… I fail for words! I think, I won’t win a T-Shirt, it is not a “unusal” comment… but it was a need for me to tell you, that I love them! <3 :) <3

  9. Kelsey Baker says:

    Whale shark! Because is it HUGE (largest fish species, currently known) and gentle. People should see the whale shark and know that sharks should not be feared or finned.

  10. I LOVE cookie cutter sharks. They’re so horrifying an amazing all at once, they’re just so great.
    I’m also pretty excited about Greenland Sharks. Really dude, you ate a reindeer? Love it.

  11. renae nielson says:

    grey nurse..lovely shark :)

  12. Bluntnose sixgill shark because it resembles many of the fossil sharks from the Triassic period :3

  13. Melissa R says:

    Basking shark! I love how they just swim with their mouths open when it’s time to eat. I’m thinking about adopting that routine next time I have to eat somewhere fancy…

  14. The poor little porbeagle, because of its name.

  15. My favourite is the sawback angelshark

  16. By far the megamouth.

  17. Derek Dapp says:

    My favorite “unusual” shark, the greenland shark, may not look so unusual. If you ignore the odd positioning of the dorsal fin, its fusiform shape makes it easily recognizable as a shark. But it isn’t the appearance of the greenland shark that makes it unusual and these cryptic animals have some features that make them stand out when compared with other shark species.

    When most people think of sharks, they think of fast moving predators. Someone might think the greenland shark would be a formidable predator, viciously attacking everything from large fish to small marine mammals due to its 24 ft. maximum size. However, the max speed of a greenland shark clocks in at around 1.6 miles per hour, which makes it quite the lumbering giant. Stomach content analysis shows that the species does consume marine mammals, but it is likely that it ambushes them as they sleep, due its slow speed. Oddly enough, the stomachs of Greenland sharks have also contained polar bears, horses, and reindeer.

    Greenland sharks are also unique because they may be the longest living vertebrates on the planet and there is evidence that shows this species can consistently live for over 200 years in the wild. This increased longevity is a product of the slow metabolism and slow-moving life style of the species. Unfortunately, in order to determine their maximum age, it would take generations of scientific researchers.

    All in all, despite the fact that it may not be the most unusual looking shark, the Greenland shark has many traits that make it unique. It has earned a place in my heart as my favorite unusual shark.

  18. Carcharocles megalodon for it’s sheer size and ‘cos i’m a huge fan of Great Whites.
    The Frilled shark is definitely out there as weird and unusual.
    I also vote for the Goblin after seeing footage of how far the jaws extend and what it looks like because it reminds me so much the Alien movies hahaha.

  19. Although not too unusual, I would say the Bonnethead shark. Most people don’t know what they are and mistake them for “weird, hammerhead look-a-likes”. I think that they are cute and underrated.

  20. While I’ve always been a fan of the unusual sharks, particularly the Goblin and Greenland sharks, I think my favorite is the Porbeagle. While it has a wide range I feel it’s very under-rated. The Porbeagle doesn’t get the notoriety that more aggressive species do or the hype that lesser seen species do. It’s a quirky shark with the way it likes to play with items on the surface and roll in kelp. I’d love to see the Porbeagle get more publicity.

  21. Paul Chiasson says:

    Saw shark

  22. The lemon shark! It has a beautiful yellowish brown color used to to camouflage and they usually have a bunch of Remora fish hanging around!

  23. Kevin Strock says:

    Lots of love to the lantern shark. Salmon sharks are adorable. Gotta mention the skaamoog, because of the name. But let’s not forget everybody’s favorite, the supercool Kamov ka-50 black shark.

  24. HOW ABOUT THE TASSELED WOBBEGONG . TALK ABOUT THE PERFECT CAMOUFLAGE.

  25. Carrie Norris says:

    My very favorite is the Thresher Shark. I just love their faces, with those big eyes they look so sweet and cuddly. Then that tail! How amazing for a shark to whip it’s tail to stun fish. And who can ignore the way they just leap out of the water, almost as if to say Hi I’m here look at me.

  26. Paul chiasson says:

    I love all sharks

  27. Shan Fraser says:

    Ok, on Facebook I said Frilled Shark, and I while they are a favourite, my heart has actually been completely stolen by a Unicorn Shark! Which I will now have to go and learn about, because I didn’t realise there was such a thing! I would love to win, but more importantly, this little competition has just introduced me to something new, so thank you! :)

  28. I love the Sand Tiger shark, they have those scary looking teeth that stick out of their mouth. I also love that most of the time you see them in the wild they are in murky water or in the dark. And the fact that they only birth two pups because those pups eat the others is so disturbing.
    If I ever see one swimming in the ocean I will be awed and freaked out.

  29. Happy Eddie! Defo Happy Eddie. The Puffadder Shyshark found of the coast of South Africa. I want&need to overcome my panic when under water and learn to dive so I can go and see it for myself. Till then I have to make do with my husbands stories and a pic shot by Morne Hardenberg of my husband And a shyshark. Speaking of Morne, his beloved cowsharks, the 7 gills of Valsbaai are a lovely unusual species too.

  30. Kelsey Fullerton says:

    Megamouth shark. It is the smallest of the filter feeding sharks, he others being basking and whale sharks. What is most unusual about this species is that it has photopores in the mouth which light up and attract prey. Pretty neat shark.

  31. Samantha Glover says:

    I like the Greenland shark :)

  32. Max Heetel says:

    Cookiecutter shark! :) small, weird appearance and quite a mean way of feeding

  33. Kelly Shih says:

    Whale shark! Amazing in its size and grace. Totally flies in the face of all shark stereotypes also.

  34. Prickly Shark Yo!!!

  35. Madison Barrett says:

    My favorite shark is Megamouth. It is rarely seen and has only been in the past 30 years that it has even been recognized as a species of shark. It is considered one of the most rare forms of shark out there. As of right now only 54 of them have been seen and documented with only 3 of them captured on film. This is why the Megamouth is my favorite. So little is know about these amazing creatures.

  36. Cam Bogie says:

    I’d say my favorite is the Thresher Shark. That tail is deadly. But I also like the nurse shark since it’s that only shark I’ve actually seen in the wild while snorkeling.

  37. Elizabeth says:

    Definitely my favorite shark is the whale shark. It is such a beautiful and majestic creature. They are incredibly beautiful and I definitely feel a strong xonnectiom to them. I am praying for health for the oceand and healong from humanities destruction.

  38. Mine would be the frilled shark. Due to the fact they may be the oldest species of shark. not only that but i believe no other sharks are in the same group(i don’t remember classification). plus to give birth they wait for along time i have heard up to four years before the baby comes out. another reason is they live at highly pressurized depths. and areas where light is unheard of.plus i believe they have a bioluminescent quality.

  39. Flavia Irusta says:

    zebra shark!!!!

  40. Ashley Rose says:

    The Cookie Cutter Shark is my FAVOURITE funny looking Shark! They are so cute, but also look like they are always laughing at life! I bet they are the Sharks that throw the best party!! :)

  41. Juan C Mendieta says:

    I like the Mega-Mouth, looks like me…lol

  42. By far I’ll go for the Cookie Cutter Shark. (even the name is funny !)

  43. alien shark

  44. the Cyclops Shark

  45. My favourite is the cookie cutter shark! I love the way their prey is so much bigger than themselves and the deep round wound they leave on their victims! They are awesome and also bioluminescent which is awesome. I love all sharks but this little guy is great!

  46. Marc somers says:

    I have to chose the Leopard shark. Altough i loved diving with the tresher shark i once saved a small Leopard shark by buying it from a Thai fisherman who caught it in his net this was a very special moment to hold the shark and put it slowly back in the water

  47. Ever since I was ten and living in Hawaii, I have loved sharks. The Goblin has long been my favorite, followed closely by the Greenland shark. Of course, I love them all and think that after 400 million years of evolution, we have so much to learn from them: to kill them is a crime. Of course, to stop finning, we need to start with changing cultural views and make the living creatures a commodity unto themselves, and make it clear that without them, THERE IS NO US!

  48. It’s a hard one. My favourite shark is the grey reef shark because it was the first I saw in the wild, but the grey reef shark does certainly not qualify as unusual. I’ve always wanted to go diving with whale sharks. I’d love to see the gentle giants in the wild. The guitar shark is also pretty cool.

  49. Thresher, because the beautiful long tail. It’s amazing that his tail almost equally long is like his body!! And i like his pointed nose really mutch :)

  50. Christoph says:

    Greenland Shark: “The flesh of a Greenland shark is poisonous. This is due to the presence of the toxin trimethylamine oxide, which, upon digestion, breaks down into trimethylamine, producing effects similar to extreme drunkenness”

  51. Frilled shark, of course !

  52. Sindre, Norway says:

    My favorite unusual shark is definetly the Goblin shark. Because of it’s own, scary, unusual looks, it’s extendable jaw, it’s freaky nail-looking teeth, it’s rareness and the fact that it lives deep in the ocean. The looks of it is my favorite thing about it though. It’s like it was taken out from a sci-fi movie with the whole demonic look.

    This unusual shark is right up there along with my favorite sharks the Great White and the Tiger Shark.

  53. I <3 the Megamouth – with its big ancient rubbery lips. Lovely.

  54. Sarah Williams says:

    Cookiecutter shark, because it takes the term ‘bite sized chunks’ to a whole new level.On a more serious note, deep sea sharks and their adaptations are interesting. I like too many shark species, bramble, tiger, goblin, six gill, i could go on. I even became known as shark geek in my University lectures. Sharks <3

  55. marco gauci says:

    Angel Shark

    • marco gauci says:

      when hearing the word ‘shark’ people think that it is only that fish which attacks humans, however the Angel Shark is one of the majority from this family which doesn’t. Beside having huge fins, this maybe another reason for its name !

  56. Angela brennan says:

    Guitar shark. But do think the goblin shark looks evil lol

  57. Like some of you have said , my favorite unusual shark is the cookie cutter shark! It is small but fierce! :) awesome characteristics! Would love to win this shirt to wear everyday at my job and home so I can spread the word!

  58. Deborah Green says:

    The frilled shark looks unusual.

  59. I’m a big fan of the megamouth! It’s such a fascinating, bizarre shark, with its rubbery lips and its huge body size. However, my favorite thing about it is that it displays just how much we still have to learn about sharks. The fact that we didn’t even know that this massive, fascinating animal even existed until 1976, and that we’ve still seen only a handful of specimens, is mind-boggling to me. There’s still so much to be discovered (heck, we just discovered a new species of bamboo shark the other day!), and that’s another reason that sharks need protection so urgently.

  60. Sandra Achleitner says:

    The Wobbegong – i like how his name sounds

  61. extinct: whorl shark.
    around today: hammerhead.

  62. The frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus), strangest shark ever!

  63. The megamouth. 50 rows of teeth… Damn.

  64. The Wobbegong Shark! It’s known as the carpet shark too for it’s rough rugged appearance and how easily it blends into the seabed. Although it doesn’t look very dangerous, if threatened or stepped on it can deliver a fierce bite with it’s line of ragged teeth on it’s upper palate. It’s a completely forgotten shark for a lot of people, but it’ll always be in my heart :)

  65. Sam milisi says:

    AHHHH THE GHOST SHARK I did a report on them in the fifth grade every since then I have loved sharks!!!!

  66. I like the lemon shark. Beautyful creature like the others .-)

  67. I’m going to have to pick the frilled shark as my favorite lesser known shark!

  68. The Whale Shark!

    It’s a beautiful shark. They can grow larger than a bus!
    A peaceful giant human friendly (all sharks are human friendly, but unfortunately most people don’t see it) shark, with an amazing dot pattern. The blue body and the white dots. I like the way they swim and how they eat plankton.
    It looks like a Whale and a Shark, but it is a Shark of course! This mix makes it even an more extraordinary animal.
    It’s such a beautiful creature and this one inspires me to go and dive in the ocean. I hope that I can dive with them one day (if they aren’t already extinct :( ).

  69. How about all of them ……….. Has Anyone watched the documentary on you tube with gordon ramsay called shark bait

  70. My favorite extinct shark would obviously be a megladon, the biggest shark that ever existed! My favorite “unusual” shark would have to be the sawshark. They are awesome looking and very interesting as well.

  71. As far as oddball sharks go, I was always fascinated by the Greenland shark. It’s parasitised by a copepod that destroys its correal tissue, effectively blinding it. But studies have shown that this hasn’t hampered the shark’s ability to hunt and survive. In fact, in most cases, the parasitised sharks have shown an increased capacity for hunting! True oddballs of the ocean.

  72. I personally love cow sharks. They are so ancient looking, but so calm. Swimming with them in the kelp forests is an unreal experience!!!

  73. Andrew Wood says:

    The Port Jackson Shark from the Victorian coastal waters of Australia. It is small (only grows to about 2 feet long), and they lay amazing spiral shaped eggs.

  74. Pam St Louis says:

    I love the Cookie Cutter Shark! Sneaking up on unsuspecting prey and leaving a perfect circular bite and the prey has no idea what hit them!

  75. Was going to go for cookie cutter but seeing as my nickname was basking when I was a DM, my fellow DM’s called me basking because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut :-) fun times and good memories my friends

  76. I like all sharks, but the tiger shark is my favorite :)

  77. I love all sharks, but my top is the big eyed thresher shark

  78. When I was about 6 years old I made a clay model of a Wobbegong Shark, it looked nothing like one, but they have been my favourites since!

  79. Dawn Welker says:

    My favorite ‘unusual’ shark is the Great Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna mokarran). It’s T shaped head made an impression on me as a kid and it honestly looked like a creature from prehistoric times. I later learned that the strangely shaped head enhanced the use of its ampullae of Lorenzini. Stretched out like a radar the Great Hammerhead has a greater range to cover when hunting for prey, such as stingrays. The Great Hammerhead was the first shark that introduced me to the shark family and it still is my favorite shark to this day.

  80. Previously, my favorite was the goblin shark. However, this summer I swam with blue and porbeagle sharks, and have decided that the blue shark is now my favorite. They were unbelievably friendly and curious, eating from our hands and gently nudging us without ever becoming aggressive. They are absolutely beautiful and graceful in the water, and its just incredible to be able to have such a close encounter without any fear whatsoever.

  81. i love all sharks, my favorite shark is the hammerhead shark, and my favorite “unusual” shark is the saw shark

  82. Boz Clapham says:

    There are lots of great sharks but my fav unusual shark has to be the Goblin shark how weird is that nose

  83. P. Laforest says:

    The mysterious Greenland Shark!

  84. The Angel Shark has got to be one of the more unusual sharks. For one it does not have the body shape of most sharks. Though mistaken as rays at times, it is easy to differentiate an angel shark from a ray by fact that its head is separated from it’s pectoral fin unlike a ray.http://www.topdiving.net/images/gallery/images/angel_shark_closeup.jpg

  85. Whitney Hawk says:

    The Cookie Cutter! OUCH

  86. carol lis says:

    i love all sharks but the TIGER SHARKE IS THE BEST !!!!!! something about those stripes that do me in. Seeing one makes me feel like a little kid.

  87. Kirsten Tarnero says:

    I like the Oceanic Whitetip with it’s distinctiv fin. And of course all other species as well. Sharks in general are fascinating and beautiful. They have been moving through the oceans before mankind appeared and hopefully they still will doing it forever.

  88. Dean Jones says:

    Mine would have to be the False Catshark! An incredibly elusive, creepy looking fish of the deep deep seas. http://www.sharkguardian.org/deep-sea-sharks-new-species-found/

  89. I’m surprised nobody here has mentioned the Hammerhead shark. Beautifully and magnificently evolved to have enhanced sensory function for seeking out stingray’s. I dove with the Great Hammerheads in French Polynesia last year; it was a life changing event.

  90. The Goblin Shark, its just so delightfully weird

  91. Well my favorite shark would have to be the Great White but my favorite unusual shark is the Basking Shark. Would not want to accidentally get in their way when they’re feeding. Lol.

  92. Abbey Wilkins says:

    My favourite unusual shark is the Frilled Shark or the Angel Shark. :)

  93. Georgia French says:

    Shortfin Mako – fastest swimming shark in the sea – up to 100km an hour! Highly migratory, crossing entire ocean basins. One of the species most regularly taken as bycatch (5-7% of swordfish longliner catch). A very impressive shark in dire need of increased protection.

  94. Farrah Levine says:

    My favorite shark is the Zebra Shark, mainly because to me, they act like a dog. Zebra sharks feed on mollusks, squid, small fish, etc. They are born black with white stripes and as they mature their stripes turn to spots and they lose their black color and become a sandy tan color. They have an extremely long tail compared to the size of their body, rounded head and fins, a beautiful blue eyes.

    It fascinates me to see that a shark can be successfully trained to eat at various times and they just seem to be a friendly shark.

  95. My favorite is the chain catshark, its just so beautiful

  96. Hi! What a cool contest! I wanted to say Goblin shark, which I first learned about during Discovery’s Shark Week, but you already listed it. I will proudly go with “Skalugsuak” the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) found in the waters off Quebec.

  97. Treasure Sharks are amazing, odd and coolest. Not everyone is lucky to see one when diving <3 in Sweden we call it "rävhaj" meaning=foxshark, because of it's tail, unusual and stunning!

  98. Erik Szopa says:

    The great whit because of its size and that it looks like a truck in water. I also loves its grace in the water and there method of hunting by surprise and speed.

  99. Our favorite shark is the “Dry Sand Shark”. This shark looks like most people on vacation and if found near water yet is never in the water or wet and has an incredible knowledge of scuba diving. Usually seen on beaches and boat docks as dive trips return yet the more aggressive ones often frequent swimming pools where dive training and dive instruction takes place. This shark normally has some sort of alcoholic beverage in its fin (hand) and be sure to look for the huge dive watch or computer. There are many more males’ of this particular species of Sand Shark than females.

  100. I think the sixgill and sevengill very unique and they seem so peaceful and relaxed, but at the same time curious. They are one of my favorite unusual looking ones.

  101. my favorite shark is the greenland shark because of how unique they are and because of how scientists judged them. They make them soud like small and dosille creatures but they eat polar bears! Greenland sharks Rock!!!

  102. Rio Lightowler says:

    Bowmouth Guitar Shark!!! they are beautiful! incredibly unique, amazing colouration and limited information and research! truly wonderful to observe!

  103. Guitar Fish!! some people call it the guitar shark, its in the shark/skate/ray family at least haha! and its awesome xx

  104. The Angelshark and the Frilled shark are my favorite looking oddball sharks.

  105. My Favorite unusual shark is the Basking Shark because although it is almost twice the size of a great white shark, and its HUGE gaping mouth can easily swallow a human, it only eats plankton. I hope i win the t-shirt. Thank you :)

  106. Jennifer Makcrow says:

    I don’t think I could just choose one shark there are so many different species of sharks out there from the goblin shark, megamouth, basking shark and lots more so it’s impossible for me to choose just one

    I HAVE always had an intrest in sharks ever Scince I watched shark week on the discovery channel when I was 6 then I realized that omg these are amazing creatures and Idk why anyone on This earth would want to fin them for soup.

  107. Jenna Frank says:

    My favorite unusual shark is the salmon shark because it is one of the few sharks that can live In the cold waters of the Arctic and because it looks almost like a small great white

  108. Bull shark for me…I mean how amazing!! the only shark that can survive in both freshwater and saltwater!! otherwise known as the Zambezi river shark.

  109. Brooklynne Workman says:

    Toss up between to Goblin shark and the Cookie Cutter shark :)

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