Shark with face of pig caught in Italy – bizarre ‘grunting’ deep-sea fish baffles locals

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Sailors spotted it floating in the water at the Darsena Medicea marina in the town of Portoferraio, on the Italian island of Elba. When they pulled it out, what they first presumed was a shark actually appeared to have a face of pig. But any reports that it was some kind of mutant were quashed after it was identified by experts as an extremely rare Angular roughshark (Oxynotus centrina). Angular roughsharks are also sometimes known as pig-faced sharks.

They normally live up to 700 metres (2,300 feet) below the surface of the water.

The species is also listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened species, meaning it is endangered and rare to find these pig-fish creatures.

While the sighting of this creature happened three weeks ago, the news of the discovery only went viral this week when photos of the strange-looking sea creature were posted to social media.

The Facebook post instantly brought comments in their hundreds, with the public trying to work out what the bizarre animal was.

The angular roughshark was taken to the Harbour Office after it was taken out of the water to be studied.

Yuri Tiberto from Elba Aquarium told local media that although rare, locals do sometimes come across sightings of the deep-sea animal.

He said: “It is commonly called a ‘pig fish’ because when it comes out of the water it emits a kind of grunt.

“In the sea of the Tuscan archipelago, so rich in biodiversity… it is not uncommon to find this fish, and I can safely say that I often receive reports telling me of ‘pig fish’ that have ended up in local fishing nets.

“I also tried for a period to host it in one of the tanks at the aquarium, but soon I gave up because I saw that it is a species that does not adapt to captivity.”

Angular roughsharks live in the East Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean.

They are known for having broad, flattened heads and wide, blunt snouts.

Male and female angular roughsharks mature at about 50–70 cm

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They have not always been endangered either, with reports that pig-fishes used to be abundant in the waters around the Canary Islands until 1997.

The species has little to no commercial value and is occasionally caught by fishermen in the Mediterranean.

Tradition says that bad luck is brought to fisherman who keeps a pig fish when they catch it.

But sadly, when pig-fishes have been released, they have never been reported to survive. 

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