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Scottish scientists surprised by rare 'sofa shark'

The false catshark is just one of several dozen shark species found off Scotland's coast for the first time this year.

By Brooks Hays
Scottish scientists surprised by rare 'sofa shark'
A false catshark hadn't been seen in 15 years. Photo by Scottish Shark Tagging Programme

EDINBURGH, Scotland, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- During a recent deep sea survey, marine biologists working with Scottish research agency Marine Scotland hooked a rare species of shark.

The false catshark (Psuedotrakias microdon) -- sometimes called the sofa shark for its paunchy, pillow-like body -- hadn't been seen in 15 years. Many Scots likely don't know the shark lives in the waters off the Scottish coast.

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"This is not a species that has previously been found in Scottish waters," the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme said in a statement.

The captured specimen measured six feet in length, but they can grow up to 10 feet long. The shark mostly keeps to the darkness of the deep sea, diving as deep 6,200 feet.

The discovery, which took place near the islands of Barra and St. Kilda, is part of an ongoing effort to catalog the sharks occupying Scottish waters. Prior to this year's survey, 32 shark species were listed as living off Scotland's coast. That list is now up to 72.

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