Nitin Patil noticed the dicephalic shark among his catch and took several photos of it before releasing it back into the ocean. According to Patil, the fishermen do not eat such small fish, so the idea of keeping the shark did not cross his mind.
“I thought it was strange but decided to throw it anyway,” he told the publication.
Umesh Palekar, another fisherman in the area, told the paper, “We have never seen anything like this before. We believe one of the larger sharks may have given birth to this double-headed shark baby.”
The group sent the photos to researchers at the Indian Council for Agricultural Research’s Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (ICAR-CMFRI) in Mumbai. There, CMFRI scientists confirmed that it was a very rare case and possibly the first double-headed shark sighting along the Maharashtra coastline.
“This phenomenon is reported in several animal species including sharks, possibly due to mutation or any other embryonic malformation, disorders, and these are very rare reports,” Dr. Akhilesh KV, a scientist at CMFRI, told the Hindustan Times.
As for how this happened to the baby shark, researchers aren’t sure. Marine biologist Swapnil Tandel explained to the publication: “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.”
Dicephalic animals have a very low survival rate and rarely reach adulthood.
Did you find this article interesting? Watch this whale shark playfully pretend to “eat” a tourist during a photoshoot.
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