A species of shark that looks like a massive blobfish has been discovered off the coast of Scotland for the first time. The false catfish (also known as a sofa shark) was found by scientists conducting a deep sea survey with Marine Scotland.
Pseudotrakias microdon live at depths of between 500m and 1,400m. For this reason, they are rarely encountered but have been caught in locations around the world, including the western Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. They normally swim close to the sea floor and only occasionally come into shallower water over the continental shelf.
The sofa shark is easily recognisable, reaching up to three metres in length and having long, narrow eyes, a large mouth and a broad head with a short, rounded snout. It also has large flaps of skin on the anterior rims of the nostrils.
Sofa sharks have large flabby muscles and an oily liver (which makes up 25% of its total weight) making it a slow-moving predator. It is its large liver that allows it to hover over the bottom of the ocean with little effort. It normally eats bony fishes like eels, along with squid, octopus and shrimp.
The species has never before been found in Scottish waters and brings the number of elasmobranchs living there to 72. "This is not a species that has previously been found in Scottish waters and is a welcome addition to our list," the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme said.