Malpelo Monster

Mystery sharklike Fish of the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Etymology: Aft er t he island. Variant names: Bongo, el Monstro. Physical description: Length, 15 feet (female). Large eyes. Dorsal fin placed above the pectoral fins.

Habitat: Prefers colder water under the ther-mocline, below 160 feet .

Distribution: Pacific Ocean off Isla de Malpelo, an island 285 miles from the coast of Colombia.

Significant sightings: This shark has been seen and photographed on rare occasions by divers.

Present status: Colombian biologist Sandra Bessudo launched an investigation in March 2001 t o det er mine it s st at us. Possible explanations:

(1) The Sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) is similar and found in all warm seas except perhaps the eastern Pacific. It grows to a length of about 10 feet 6 inches. However, its dorsal fin is placed farther back.

(2) The Smalltooth sand tiger ( Odontaspis ferox) has been seen off southern California and Baja California. It has smaller eyes and grows to 12 feet long.

(3) An unknown species of Sand tiger shark (Family Odontaspididae), suggested by Sandra Bessudo.

Source: Fran├žois Sarano, "The Malpelo Monst er : A New Species of Shark?" August 23, 2001, ht tp://www.phot oceans.com/anglais/ mag/index.cfm?id_a ct =243&id_r ub=71.

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