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15 Crazy Goblin Shark Fun Facts

Get your nose into these fifteen fascinating facts about these deepwater creatures!

Beano Facts Team
Last Updated:ย  April 28th 2023

You've definitely never seen a goblin shark in real life before! They're odd looking creatures that live deep, deep in the sea - and you're about to learn EVERYTHING about them! Do you know where their name cames from, or why they have such big noses? It's time to learn!

For more ocean awesomeness, check out our top 20 facts about the sea, learn all about whales, or take our ultimate crab quiz!

1. They live deep down

Goblin sharks live at around 4,500 feet deep in the ocean. For comparison, the deepest a human has dived is just under 3,600 feet. You can't go any further without being crushed by the pressure of the water!

2. They're living fossils

"Living fossil" means an animal that hasn't changed much over millions of years. You can kind of tell by looking at them - they wouldn't look out of place in Jurassic Park!

3. They're pink!

A surprising fact about these fellas - they're actually pink-skinned! Well, that's not technically true - they have translucent skin, so the blood vessels underneath make their skin look pink. They're born almost white and get darker with age.

4. They live in a lot of places

They can be found off the coasts of the western USA, the European Atlantic, West and South Africa, Australia - but they're most commonly sighted off the coast of Japan!

5. They grow into their noses

A defining feature of the goblin shark is that giant schnoz - but did you know they're born with that big nose? Baby goblin sharks grow up and look a little less silly when their noses reach better proportions! This is good, because...

6. Their noses serve a very important purpose

Their noses are full of electroreceptors called Ampullae of Lorenzini. These organs detect heartbeats of little fish in the darkness, so that the goblin shark knows where it can find food!

7. They're jaw-dropping (literally)

Those strange-looking mouths serve a purpose! They have ligaments in their jaws that means they can extend their mouths outwards to catch prey! (Seriously, look up a video, it's insane)

8. They probably sneak up on prey

Their hunting habits are a little hard to observe (remember, they live super deep in the ocean), but scientists think that goblin sharks probably sneak up on prey in the dark and then spring their jaws on them! This is useful, because...

9. Their bodies are... not great

Goblin sharks have "atrophied bodies" - that is to say, they have tiny fins, weak skeletons, and pretty bad eyesight and muscles. That's what makes most animals good at hunting and surviving! But, because of their jaws and clever heartbeat-detecting snoots, they make it work!

10. They have multiple teeth in rows

As you know, many sharks have lots of teeth in rows - but the goblin shark has more than you might think! Their upper jaws have between 35 and 53 rows of teeth, while their lower jaw has between 31 and 62 rows. That's a LOT of teeth! It's also thought that they spear prey on their teeth and then swallow them whole. Gulp!

11. They might have live babies

Scientists haven't been able to observe a pregnant female goblin shark, so it's tough to say for sure - but it's though that goblin sharks are ovoviviparous. This means that the female shark carries eggs inside her, which then hatch and she gives birth to live young. Some snakes do this too. This probably happens in the spring - but again, scientists aren't sure!

12. They're vampires

Well okay, it's just a nickname. But goblin sharks have earned the nickname of "vampire sharks"! They live very deep in the sea, away from all sunlight, just like the mythical vampire!

13. Their name is Japanese

The goblin shark was first recorded in 1898 off the coast of Japan, by an English naturalist called Alan Owston. He had no idea what it was, and handed it over to a Japanese zoologist named Kakichi Mitsukuri. The shark was eventually named after these two men (Mitskurina owstoni). But the name "goblin shark" comes from its Japanese name, tenguzame. Zame means "shark", and a tengu is a creature in Japanese mythology that is often depicted with a red face and a long nose. This was translated to "goblin" in English!

14. They eat anything

...and that's not necessarily a good thing. Goblin sharks have been eating rubbish at the bottom of the ocean - yep, plastic waste has gotten that far!

15. We really don't know a lot about them

Because they live so deep down, there's so much we still don't know about these fascinating creatures! They're usually caught by mistake, and our knowledge is based on dead specimens and a tiny bit of footage. These deep-sea critters have so many fascinating secrets still to discover...