Is there something in the water off New England?
This summer and last have each brought talk of legendary megalodon sharks apparently spotted in the ocean.
First, a massive shark seen on video lurking around a tall ship off the coast of Massachusetts had social media in an uproar in late May 2021. “Is that a megalodon?” one person jokingly questioned in the comments of the video on TikTok, along with many others.
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Then, earlier this month, a team of Rhode Island shark experts were shocked to see an image that appeared to be a 50-foot-long "Meg" on sonar while on a research trip. The researchers from the Rhode Island-based Atlantic Shark Institute estimated the shark they were seeing on their device to weigh about 40 tons.
So are megalodons really back, roaming the high seas and eating entire whales whole?
The answer is no, at least based on the evidence of each of the recent news stories, both of which went viral.
In the first story, the shark really was massive, but John Chisholm of the New England Aquarium was confident right away what it wasn't.
"Megalodon has been extinct for over 3 million years, so I knew it wasn't a megalodon," he told NBC10 Boston at the time.
In fact, that "Meg" was really a basking shark.
And as for the more recent apparent megalodon, it wasn't actually one fish -- it was a whole lot of them.
The Atlantic Shark Institute said its experts tracked the massive figure for several minutes but were disappointed when it began to shape shift as it moved closer to the vessel. It turned out to be a "large school of Atlantic mackerel" that hung around the boat for about 15 minutes, the organization said on Facebook.
Scientists estimate the megalodon – the largest shark to ever live – to have been around 50 feet long and weigh up to 70 tons when it ruled the ocean millions of years ago. It could have devoured a creature the size of a killer whale in just five bites, scientists found in new research published last week.
But they're gone for good. NBC10 Boston's podcast "Shark Tales," asked shark experts what they know about “The Meg,” as it was called in the 2018 sci-fi action movie of the same name, and why they are certainly dead and gone, as well as what helped propagate the myth that they still swim the world's oceans.