The Natural History Department of the East London Museum routinely undertakes coastal audits along the Wild Coast, South Africa. Unusual fauna and flora are recorded for various biodiversity data bases as well as new records. A patrol between Mazeppa Bay and the Qora Estuary during November 2009 presented the remains of a megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) which had washed up at coordinates 32 27’ S, 28 39’ E . The skeletal structure had collapsed and was partially buried in the inter-tidal zone of a sandy beach. The specimen was greater than 3m in length. Some evidence of predation was noted in the tail area and the carcass was in an advanced state of putrification. The megamouth was found at approximately 4 pm (GMT +2) on the 6th November 2009 by Kevin Cole. It was decaying on a protected beach, parallel to the water-line, with the head facing north. This is a second record from a South African beach, this first being recorded from Natures Valley in 2002 at coordinates 33o 59′ S, 23o 34′ E (Smale and Compagno 2002).
Reference: Smale, M.J., L.J.V. Compagno & B.A Human 2002. First megamouth shark from the western Indian Ocean and South Africa. South African Journal of Science 98(7-8): 349–350.
Management and staff of the Kobb Inn Resort (Qora Mouth) are thanked for hosting museum scientists during this period.
Below are pictures of a Megamouth shark from the Philippines (2007).