Fisherman Joe Rowley caught a rare gollum shark, named after the Lord of the Rings character, off the Sunshine Coast. It is not often seen in Queensland Waters.
Fisherman Joe Rowley caught a rare gollum shark, named after the Lord of the Rings character, off the Sunshine Coast. It is not often seen in Queensland Waters. Warren Lynam

Rare find gollum shark so... precious

THERE are reasons Spielberg used a great white shark as his predatory killer fish in Jaws rather than a gollum shark.

The latter just doesn't cut it in terms of size, presence or flesh-tearing teeth, but does take some beating in the rarity stakes.

A 66cm gollum shark was captured about 280km off the Sunshine Coast last weekend and is thought to be only the third or fourth recorded specimen in Australia.

Deepwater bottom fisherman Joe Rowley, based at Mooloolaba, line-caught the gollum shark while targeting blue-eye trevalla, and immediately knew it was something very different.

"Gollum sharks are apparently endemic to New Zealand, so either it has migrated a long way to get here or it could be a separate gollum shark sub-species," he said.

A commercial fisherman for more than 40 years, Mr Rowley said the gollum shark was named after the character from the Lord of the Rings fantasy novels.

"It has a flattened head and big green protruding eyes, and I'd never seen anything like it before," he said.

Mr Rowley's provisional identification was confirmed by Ken Graham, Australia's leading expert on deepwater sharks.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and Australian Fisheries Management Authority are sponsoring Mr Rowley and others in a gulper shark scientific tagging survey.

Any gulper sharks caught on his line are tagged and released, but Mr Rowley recognised the gollum shark as a rarity worth keeping.

"I've done a lot of work with the CSIRO and save them a lot of species, and I knew this one would be one they'd want to study," he said.

The experienced fisherman, who admits to a very keen interest in deep-ocean species, said he expected his catch would be subject to DNA tests to establish if it were a new sub-species of gollum shark.

"We know more about the moon than we do about the deep ocean, so it's a particularly interesting find," Mr Rowley said.

The sample has been donated to the Queensland Museum in Brisbane.



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