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5-meter-long stuffed megamouth shark on display at central Japan aquarium

A stuffed megamouth shark is seen displayed at the Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium in the city of Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture, in central Japan, on July 17, 2020. (Mainichi/Hiroshi Ishikawa)

NUMAZU, Shizuoka -- An about-5-meter-long stuffed megamouth shark is now on display at the Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium in this central Japan city, facing the country's deepest bay at which the big fish washed ashore.

    The display is Shizuoka Prefecture's second of the mysterious deep-sea shark, following the museum operated by Tokai University's School of Marine Science and Technology, in Shizuoka's Shimizu Ward.

    The Numazu megamouth was found beached in the city on the 2,500-meter deep Suruga Bay by a surfer on Jan. 28, 2019. The rare find was reported to the aquarium, and the taxidermic wonder is now the facility's largest exhibit.

    The shark is characterized by its enormous mouth, hence its name. They have sharp teeth but eat mainly plankton, and it remains a mystery what the teeth are for. Megamouths swallow plankton along with huge volumes of water, and then filter their food out with their gills, according to the aquarium.

    Hirotaka Shiozaki, 44, the aquarium's display and breeding manager, told the Mainichi Shimbun, "It's an important exhibit with regard to research into the unfamiliar world of the deep sea, as (megamouth sharks') behavior, such as breeding, remain unclarified. We hope people will be fascinated with the deep sea of Suruga Bay."

    (Japanese original by Hiroshi Ishikawa, Numazu Bureau)

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