‘Alien fish’ caught by teen identified as rare albino swell shark

Posted at 5:30 PM, Apr 06, 2016

An 18-year-old boy from Illinois had Facebook buzzing after posting a photo of a unique, alien-like shark he caught while fishing off the coast of Mexico.

Scott McLaughlin and his dad Russell went on a fishing trip with a guide on March 28 in the Sea of Cortez near Cabo San Lucas.

“We put weights on the line and some fish on the hook and let it dangle,” Scott told the Chicago Tribune. “It started clicking, and I knew I had something when it started fighting back. It was exhausting to bring it in.”

“I asked our guide what it was, and he said he had never seen anything like it in 25 years of doing this,” McLaughlin said. “We kept it out of the water for about 10 minutes before releasing it. The guide was concerned it might be endangered.”

David Ebert, program director for the Pacific Shark Research Center of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories near Carmel, Calif., identified the catch from photos as an albino or leucistic swell shark.

Ebert told the Tribune that swell sharks are common in that area but said he has never seen one that was albino or leucistic.

“There are about 520 species of sharks, and I’ve seen albino or leucistic ones in some of those, but this was the first time seeing an albino or leucistic form of a swell shark,” he said.