Japanese Says That Sea Creature Could Be Related to Shark Species

New York Times July 26, 1977:

TOKYO, July 25 (AP)--A marine biologist says a 30-foot, two-ton sea creature netted by a Japanese trawler of New Zealand in April showed a biochemical makeup similar to that of a kind of shark.

A spokesman for Prof. Fujio Yasuda of Tokyo Fisheries University said today that a gas chromatography analysis of a whisker-like specimen from the creature showed it contained various amino acids seen in a species of shark, Prionace glauca [the blue shark], that usually grows to a maximum length of 18 feet.

"Yasuda stresed that the report is strictly tentative, and what it shows is only that the monster could have been a shark, not that it was nothing but a shark," the spokesman said. Prior to the chemical analysis, the professsor said the creature resembled an extinct sea reptile of 430 million years ago.

The trawler Zuiyo Maru fished up the dead creature and sent a specimen and photographs to Tokyo for analysis. The rotted carcass was thrown back because crewmen feared it would contaminate their catch.

Credit: John Moore

Comment: The Zuiyo Maru's catch has long since been exposed as the very rotted body of a basking shark, Cetorhinus maximus, in a bunch of papers published in July 1978 by the Societe franco-japonaise d'oceanographie in Tokyo, Japan. Of course the carcass was slightly larger than the average length of basking sharks, though one monster was 44 feet long, and captured in Maritime Canada. So the 33 foot length of the "monster carcass" is within boundries of a very large basking shark.