About This Project

The Megamouth is one of our ocean's most enigmatic shark species. We know almost nothing about this iconic and mysterious deep-sea giant. Recently, Taiwan has had a spike in Megamouth encounters. When fishers catch a Megamouth, the crew cannot afford to release the shark, and they are sold in the fish markets. The captains on this very small fishing fleet have agreed to allow us to study, tag, and RELEASE these peaceful giants, if we compensate them for the animal would bring at the market.

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What is the context of this research?

The Megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) is one of nature's strangest and poorly understood megafauna. Despite their size, they remained undiscovered until 1976. Since that time Megamouth encounters have continued to be extremely rare, and we still know almost nothing about them.

Scientists at the Pacific Shark Research Center are teaming up with researchers from the National Taiwan Ocean University to launch the world's first large scale Megamouth tracking project. This project will not only directly save Megamouths caught as bycatch but will also help solve the mega mystery behind these strange sharks. We will go from knowing nothing about these otherworldly sharks to having a good idea of their life histories and, more importantly, learning what we need to know to protect them.

What is the significance of this project?

There is currently a void in our knowledge concerning how long they live, how quickly they reproduce, or how their populations will be able to handle this increase in human interactions. Now is the time for us to act and take this opportunity to proactively conduct research before there are negative impacts. So often do shark populations only receive attention after it is too late; let's change that by learning about Megamouths before we affect their survival.

What are the goals of the project?

The goals of this project are simple: save Megamouths and collect data to protect the species. During the release, life history data will be taken to help us learn about Megamouths, and a pop-up satellite archival tag will be attached to the shark's dorsal fin. These sophisticated tags will collect detailed data: light levels, depth and vertical migration, location data to understand migration patterns, temperature, and salinity.

The "big picture" objectives of this project are to collect data to provide a fully comprehensive description of the life history characteristics of Megamouth sharks. If we want to protect these wonderful animals, we need a foundation of information in order to guide policy decisions that promote sustainable fisheries and conserve deep-sea ecosystems.


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The requested amount will go directly into travel to Taiwan, rescuing a Megamouth Shark, and fitting it with a sophisticated pop-up tag. The tag is by far the most expensive component, but is a necessity for the project. Any excess funds will be used to save more bycatch Megamouths and expand on the Adopt a Megamouth Project.

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Meet the Team

Paul J Clerkin
Paul J Clerkin
Masters Candidate


Pacific Shark Research Center Moss Landing Marine Laboratories San Jose State University
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Team Bio

I am young researcher. Despite my age, I have discovered more than a dozen new species during two expeditions on the Indian Ocean (a total of 126 days at sea). This led to my involvement in the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) to help instruct locals on how to identify deep-sea species. I have also been on a UNFAO cruise to explore remote parts of the Southeast Atlantic. Most recently, I was featured in my second documentary for Discovery's Shark Week, where I traveled to Taiwan to work with Megamouths. I am one of only a handful of researcher to have hands on experience with tagging Megamouth.

I have extensive experience working at sea. Over the last few years I conducted research abroad ships in the Bering Sea, South East Atlantic, Philippines Sea, and across the Pacific. I've served multiple seasonal deployments with the National Marine Fisheries Service aboard longliners and trawlers in the Bering Sea. During undergrad at Cornell University, I participated in the Sea Education Associations Semester-at-Sea program, conducting open-ocean research during a 3,000-mile voyage on a research and sailing school vessel in the Equatorial Pacific. I am currently a fourth-year graduate student at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.

Paul J Clerkin

Paul J. Clerkin is a graduate researcher at the Pacific Shark
Research Center of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in Moss Landing,
California. Clerkin specializes in rare and deep-sea chondrichthyans and is
focusing on new species descriptions and life histories of poorly understood
sharks species. His thesis work is with David A. Ebert studying sharks
encountered during two surveys in the Southern Indian Ocean in 2012 and 2014, a total of 126 days at sea. He has also conducted research for other projects aboard ships in the Bering Sea, South East Atlantic, Philippines Sea, and across the Pacific. He is currently describing some of the 15 new species he discovered in the Indian Ocean and planning his next expedition.

Press and Media

This project is currently an unfunded extension of an expedition undertaken earlier this year and featured as part of Shark Week's Alien Shark: Close Encounters.

To learn more about this one of a kind adventure please visit:




To learn more about our adventures, expeditions, and workshops please visit:

Please visit: http://pauljclerkin.com/category/in-the-news/
Discovery Channel: http://press.discovery.com/us/dsc/programs/shark-w...
Shark University: http://sharkuniversity.org/ Pacific Shark Research Center: http://psrc.mlml.calstate.edu/
Social networks:
Instagram: http://instagram.com/sharkuniversity, twitter: https://twitter.com/SharkUniversity,
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharkuni,
and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pacific-Shark-Resea...

Additional Information

Project Backers

  • 30Backers
  • 19%Funded
  • $1,230Total Donations
  • $41.00Average Donation
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