Half-shark, half-pig: creature caught in Italy turns out to be an endangered species

Navy officers pulled a strange creature that resembled both a shark and a pig from the waters off the island of Elba, Italy. The animal, which was floating dead, was discovered on August 19, but photos were not posted online until September 3.

While the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been taking place since September 3 in Marseille, a photo of a mysterious fish with a pig’s mouth appeared in the media. It turned out to be a rare and endangered shark found by chance by Italian marine officers.

If its appearance first made the inhabitants think of a mutant, scientists later reported that it was an Oxynotus Centrina, an extremely rare and endangered shark.

Annamaria Nocita, a curator of the ichthyological collection of La Specola in Florence, explained to the daily La Nazione that usually this fish lives between four and 700 meters, but, from time to time, it shark goes to the surface to feed, as must have been the case of the specimen found.

Although this shark is not dangerous for humans and feeds exclusively on mollusks, crustaceans, and worms, it remains a predator, assured Ms. Nocita, who emphasizes that the animal caught was quite large. Indeed, normally, its fellow creatures are less than a meter.

According to IUCN figures analyzed in an article published on September 6 in the journal Current Biology, of 1,199 species in the class of chondrichthyans, or cartilaginous fish (which includes sharks, rays, and chimeras), 90 are considered being “critically endangered”, 121 “endangered”, and 180 “vulnerable”.

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