The shark was dead when the fishermen recovered it, Museum Victoria noted on Facebook.
Looking prehistoric, lengthy, and deeply odd, a 20-foot long basking shark was accidentally caught by a trawler this week off the town of Portland, in southwestern Australia.
Marine biologists know very tiny about this rare species of shark and are quite happy for this opportunity that will allow them to study it better.
The museum hopes to learn a lot about this species of “un-shark like” shark by looking at tissue samples, stomach contents and its vertebrae.
Basking sharks are caught somewhat regularly by fisherman off New Zealand, and seem most common in the North Atlantic, around the United Kingdom and the US East Coast, according to National Geographic.
According to officials, the head and fins of the shark were taken to the museum to build a full-scale exhibition model.
“These rare encounters can provide numerous missing pieces of knowledge that help broader conservation and biological research”, Dr Martin Gomon, of Museum Victoria, told the station.
The samples will be used to offer a rare insight into the life history of the shark in the southern hemisphere. They just open their gaping jaws and trawl the ocean for plankton and jellyfish.
They are migratory animals and are widely distributed, however, they are seldom seen in coastal locations like Cornwall in England.
While the scientists are enthusiastic about getting a chance to research this species with a real specimen on hand, the conservationists are outraged that this shark was caught up in nets and allowed to die.
Basking sharks are not common fish off Australia, and the last one was caught off the country in the 1930s, according to National Geographic.
Museum Victoria’s senior collection manager of vertebrate zoology, Dianne Bray, said basking sharks had been sighted over the years off Australia’s Victoria state, but never in large numbers.
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