A bizarre deep-sea creature with the body of a shark and the face of a pig has been pulled out of the water by Italian naval officers.
It was spotted by sailors on the naval vessel floating in the waters at the Darsena Medicea marina in the town of Portoferraio on the Italian island of Elba on 19th August.
When they pulled it out of the water they discovered that what appeared at first glance to be a shark actually had a face that better resembled that of a pig, but despite the initial shock, they determined that it was a rare shark.
The creature was identified as an extremely rare Angular roughshark (Oxynotus centrina), also sometimes known as a pig-faced shark.
It is also listed on the IUCN Red List as endangered which means it is rarely spotted, it also normally lives up to 700 metres (2,300 feet) below the surface.
Despite the find taking place three weeks ago, news of the discovery went viral only now when photos of the bizarre-looking marine animal were posted on social media.
The post immediately attracted hundreds of comments, including criticism from netizens who thought the shark had been captured and killed on purpose.
After it was removed from the water, the angular roughshark was taken to the Harbour Office to be studied and then ultimately disposed of.
Yuri Tiberto of the Elba Aquarium told local media that although rare, it was still not uncommon for it to be seen locally.
He added: “It is commonly called a ‘pig fish’ because when it comes out of the water it emits a kind of grunt.
“In the sea of the Tuscan archipelago, so rich in biodiversity… it is not uncommon to find this fish, and I can safely say that I often receive reports telling me of ‘pig fish’ that have ended up in local fishing nets.
“I also tried for a period to host it in one of the tanks at the aquarium, but soon I gave up because I saw that it is a species that does not adapt to captivity.”
The angular roughshark is known to live in the East Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean. It is known for its broad, flattened head and its fat, blunt snout.