Indonesian fishermen were shocked when they stumbled across an extremely rare baby shark with only one eye.
It may resemble a creature from fantasy films, but this creepy-cute sea cyclops is actually the real deal.
Fishermen found the one-eyed creature as they were assessing what they caught in their fishing nets off the shore of Maluku province in Indonesia last Saturday, reports The Sun.
As the fishermen cut open the belly of a dead adult shark caught in the nets, they were shocked to find the tiny, strange white baby shark inside its guts along with two other unborn baby sharks.
The poor baby shark had a prominent large eye in the center of its forehead along with an ivory-white body and fully-formed fins.
The larger shark was likely pregnant and carrying the cyclops fetus in its womb before meeting its fate in the fishing nets.
Fisherman Andy, 29, was shocked by the unexpected discovery of the one-eyed albino fetus.
“We found three babies inside its stomach, but one of them looked strange with only one eye,” he said. “Its color was strange too, like milk.”
The fishermen quickly reported the unusual catch to the local marine office before handing over the rare baby shark’s body to authorities.
The strange specimen had a clear case of albinism, which results from when a creature can only produce low amounts of melanin, leading to the pale pigmentation of their body.
The shark also had a condition known as cyclopia, which is when the front portion of an animal’s brain fails to divide the orbits of the eye into two cavities, resulting in just one single eye.
The rare developmental anomaly has affected human fetuses, as was the case in 1982 when a baby girl was born in Israel seven weeks prematurely and had no nose and only one eye in the center of her face. The infant lived only 30 minutes after birth, and also had severe abnormalities affecting her brain.
The rare congenital disorder occurs within the broader spectrum of cranial and facial defects holoprosencephaly, which can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth in more severe cases.
The unique appearance of the unborn shark has been compared to the recognizable cyclops-style beat Mike Wazowski from the Disney film, Monsters Inc.
This isn’t the first time that a one-eyed shark has been discovered in the open seas. In 2011, a similar one-eyed albino fetus was recovered from the womb of a pregnant bull hark off the Gulf of California.
"Cyclops" Shark! pic.twitter.com/36fFPRQ11W
— Mind Blowing (@TheMindBlowing) October 30, 2014
The “cyclops shark” was also sliced from the belly of a pregnant mama shark by a commercial fisherman, and was preserved by scientists and became the subject of research.
Scientists observed that the deformed creature’s single eye was made of functional optical tissue, but that the poor creature probably wouldn’t have survived outside of the womb.
“This is extremely rare,” said shark expert Felipe Galvan Magana of Mexico’s Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias del Mar. “As far as I know, less than 50 examples of an abnormality like this have been recorded.”
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