Local scientists say they’ve “never seen anything like this” as a fisherman pulls up a perfectly healthy two-headed baby shark.
Chances are, too, that this is a first for most eyes. Catching a baby shark is rare enough in itself. But one with two heads? Unheard of.
A fisherman harvesting off the coast of Palghar, India, has caught a healthy, feeding, breathing two-headed baby shark. The baby, a mere six-inches long, appears to be functioning perfectly in both heads. The fisherman, Nitin Patil, says he pities the baby, so he threw it back into the ocean.
Before he cast the one-of-a-kind baby out, however, Patil took a dozen photos of the shark. Thankfully, he’s sharing them on social media, so scientists and enthusiasts alike can study this two-headed wonder.
Two-headed Baby Shark Photographed Before Release
As a result, most of the world is likely meeting a two-headed shark for the first time:
One other fisherman saw the tiny anomaly of an animal, Umesh Palekar. Palekar spoke to the Hindustan Times, too, confirming that the photos were shared with local researchers.
“We have never seen anything like this before,” Palekar tells reporters. “We believe one of the larger sharks may have given birth to this double-headed shark baby.”
“These finds are so rare that it is difficult to find a cause”
Meanwhile, the Indian Council for Agricultural Research – Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (ICAR-CMFRI) in Mumbai, tells Hindustan this may be India’s first living two-headed shark ever documented.
A scientist with the ICAR-CMFRI, Dr. Akhilesh KV, confirms to the newspaper that the shark “looks like it could be a spadenose shark or a sharpnose shark. Both are viviparous and are common in Maharashtra waters,” Akhilesh adds.
If a shark is viviparous, it means they birth live young that develop within the body of their parent. According to the UK’s Natural History Museum, “There are over 500 species of sharks living in waters around the world and the majority give birth to live young. The remainder are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs.”
One marine biologist, however, tells the Hindustan Times that the deformity is “so rare” that it’s difficult to find any specific “cause.”
“These finds are so rare that it is difficult to find a cause for the anomaly. Genetic or metabolic disorders, viruses, pollution or overfishing could be the possible reasons.”Swapnil Tandel, Marine biologist
One thing’s for certain – this little fellow only adds to an already spectacularly bizarre year for sharks.