Sharks are quintessential creatures in the earth’s ocean. Despite this, many are rare or near the brink of extinction. Below, you can explore a few of the most interesting. 

On this list, readers can find descriptions of ten of the most exciting sharks to have ever lived in the earth’s oceans. A few on the list are extinct, others are rare, and more are still commonly found throughout various oceans

Goblin Shark

A deep-sea shark with a extruding nose

Grow to 10-13 feet

The Goblin Shark has weird extruding nose
The Goblin Shark has weird extruding nose

The goblin shark, or Mitsukurina owstoni, is a rare species of shark. Its usual and “creepy” appearance is often described as fossil-like. There is no mistaking this deep-sea creature for anything other than what it is. It has pink-toned skin and a distinctive snout shape. It is elongated and flat with a protruding jaw and skinny, incredibly sharp teeth. They can grow to be around 10-13 feet in length and are rarely seen by human beings. This is mostly due to the fact that they live so deep in the ocean, around 100 meters or 330 feet.

Nurse Shark

A bottom feeder shark

Grow to around 10 feet in length

Nurse Shark are relatively friendly looking: unusual for sharks
Nurse Shark are relatively friendly looking: unusual for sharks

Source: NLEJAH

The nurse shark is a fish in the family Ginglymostomatidae. It is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN due to overfishing practices. They are a very important species for scientists researching sharks due to the fact that they are hardy, usually surviving study and tagging. Nurse sharks can grow to around 10 feet in length, with the maximum ever recorded at 15 feet. 


Strange looking saw-like snout

Snout is covered with sharp teeth

The saw shark has a peculiar snout
The saw shark has a peculiar snout

The saw shark is an interesting and usual creature that has a long, saw-like snout. This snout is covered with sharp teeth, which, as the name implies, makes it resemble a saw. It uses these teeth to tear its prey apart. They are found around the world but are most common in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. They feed on everything from small fish to crustaceans. 

Helicoprion Shark

Lived 290 million years ago in North America

Has a very unique ‘tooth whirl’

Helicoprion Shark
The Helicoprion Shark has an incredibly strange whirl of teeth on its lower jaw

Source: Dmitry Bogdanov

This extinct species of shark is a very interesting addition to this list. It is known for its “tooth whorls.” Unfortunately, only the tooth whorls themselves survive to give scientists an idea of what this shark looked like. Some creative imagining and deduction have led to the depictions available today. 

The shark lived 290 million years ago around North America, Eastern Europe, Asia, and Australia. The “tooth whorl” was discovered in Idaho and measured 18 inches (45 cm) in length. The entire fish was, perhaps, around 33 feet (10 meters) in length.


An extinct large shark, similar to the great white in looks

Grew to 60 feet long

The megalodon was incredible big, at ~3 times larger than a great white shark

Source: Sergiodlarosa

The megalodon was a giant shark that lived millions of years ago. It is now considered to be the largest shark to ever live in our oceans and one of the largest fish ever recorded. It’s captured the public’s imagination through its depiction in fictionalized films and television shows. The shark is scientifically known as Carcharocles megalodon. Megalodon went extinct sometime during the Miocene or Pliocene epoch. Scientists believe Climate change, fluctuations in sea level, and glacial expansion are all possible reasons this enormous shark went extinct.
They could grow to be between 60 feet or 18 meters in length, and 80 feet or 25 meters in length. In comparison, modern sharks are around 20 feet long (6m).

Basking Shark

The large mouth collects zooplankton to eat

Grows to 26 feet

Basking shark
The Basking Mouth has a weird mouth which, when open, can see part of its skeletal structure

The basking shark is a large shark, considered to be the largest living shark after the whale shark. It can reach lengths of twenty-six feet. It’s usually grey-brown in color with mottled skin. It also has a distinctive large mouth. It’s found around the world in temperate oceans and is a filter feeder. This means that it opens its mouth and strains its food through a filtering structure. Its name comes from its habit of swimming to the surface of the water and appearing to bask in the sunlight. 


Has a look of a beard with the growths under their mouths

A ‘carpet’ shark that grows to 4 feet long

The unusual-named Wobbegong has a look of a beard on its lower jaw

Source: Wikicommons 

The wobbegong is a type of carpet shark. It is one of twelve species of carpet shark that belong to the family Orectolobidae. The sharks prefer to live in tropical waters around the Pacific Ocean and the eastern Indian Ocean. They are named for an Australian Aboriginal word meaning “shaggy beard.” This refers to the growths under their mouths that resemble beards of a sort. They are bottom-dwelling sharks and spend most of their life resting along the seafloor. They are not large sharks, growing to be around 4 feet in length. 

Hammerhead Shark

A distinctive ‘hammer-like’ head

Helps to increase their senses to catch prey

hammerhead shark
The strange hammerhead shark has a very distinctive head and spaced-out eyes

Source: Marko Dimitrijevic

The hammerhead shark is a commonly seen and admired shark species. It’s part of the family Sphyrnidae. It is named for the distinctive shape of its head, which, ins some ways, resembles a hammer. The species is most common along coastlines and continental shelves. The hammerhead swims in groups during the day and hunts by itself at night. They grow between 2 ft 11 in to 19 ft 8 in long and usually weigh between 6.6 to 1,278 pounds. 

Cookie Cutter Shark

Looks like the shape of a cigar

A very small shark, growing to 22 inches 

Cookie cutter shark head
The cookie cutter shark has strange head, and a body in the shape of a cigar

The cookie cutter shark, or Isistius brasiliensis, is also known as the cigar shark. The shark is regarded as a parasite due to its habit of biting rounded pieces off of other animals and even non-organic material. It’s classified as a facultative ectoparasite and usually works as an ambush predator. Interestingly, it also migrates up from around 2 miles below the ocean’s surface daily. The shark is quite small, one of the smallest sharks on this list. It can only reach around 22 inches, or 56 centimeters when fully grown.

Frilled Shark

A type of shark that looks like a ‘living fossil’

‘Eel’ shape body that grows to ~ 7 feet

The Frilled shark is the only shark on this list that looks like a living fossil

Source: OpenCage

The frilled shark was discovered in the 19th century by German ichthyologist Ludwig H.P. Döderlein. It, like the goblin shark, is often referred to as a “living fossil” due to its eery appearance and the shape of its mouth. The specimens analyzed by scientists are around 2 meters or 6.6 feet in length. The shark has an eel-like body that’s dark brown to grey in color and amphistyly, referring to the articulation of the jaws to the head. There are two species of frilled shark distributed throughout the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. They are usually found in waters of the outer continental shelf and upper continental slope.


What is the most interesting shark?

Some of the most interesting sharks are the goblin and cookie cutter sharks. These two very different sharks are featured on this list because of their unique appearances and abilities. 

What is the rarest type of shark?

One of the rarest types of shark is the Ganges shark. Very little is known about this shark, besides that, it lives in the Ganges River, and it is considered to be critically endangered.

What kind of sharks are rare?

Some rare types of sharks are the Ganges shark, the goblin shark, the frilled shark, the sharpnose sevengill shark, and the megamouth shark