Does the Megalodon Shark Live in the Mariana Trench?

Does the Megalodon Shark live in the Mariana Trench, deep in the darkest part of the ocean?
Does the Megalodon Shark live in the Mariana Trench, deep in the darkest part of the ocean?

Possible Megalodon in the Mariana Trench

Modern science tells us the Megalodon Shark is extinct, but could it still live in the Mariana Trench and other deep places in the ocean? Some people think so, and whenever the subject of a living Megalodon comes up the Mariana Trench is pointed out as a likely hiding spot.

This is partly due to some fairly famous novels written on the subject, but the logic here makes sense. Megalodon was a 60-foot shark that hunted near shore and fed on large whales and other marine creatures. Obviously if such a creature still existed it would be visible and well known. This fact alone is enough for most researchers to conclude that Megalodon is extinct.

However, alleged Megalodon sightings through the years would suggest otherwise. Anecdotal evidence, mainly stories from fishermen who witness massive sharks, would indicate there is still a very large predatory shark out there somewhere.

But if Megalodon still exists it must have evolved to live somewhere it is rarely seen. The Mariana Trench is about as remote as it gets, and even a massive shark would be very hard to find.

Is it possible the Megalodon shark lives in the Mariana Trench? You decide.

What is the Mariana Trench?

The Mariana Trench is a massive canyon in the Earth's crust, and the deepest part of the ocean. Located in the Western Pacific, it runs for over 1,500 miles, but averages only a bit more than 40 miles across.

The Mariana Trench was created by a geological process called subduction. In this case, the Pacific tectonic plate is moving very slowly to the west, and pressure is pushing it down into the Earth's crust where it meets the Philippine Plate. Far to the east, new ocean floor is created by volcanic activity.

So, the Pacific Ocean floor is like a big conveyor belt, slowly marching westward over time, where it is recycled into the depths of the Mariana Trench. This makes the ocean floor in the Mariana Trench the oldest in the world, dating back around 180 million years.

Why does this matter? Because we know the Megalodon shark went extinct only about 1.5 million years ago, putting it well within the geological timeframe to take up residence in the Mariana Trench.

At its deepest, at a spot called Challenger Deep, the Marina Trench measures over 35,000 feet. By comparison, that's about 6,000 feet deeper than Mount Everest is tall.

Is it really possible a shark could live at those depths. Does anything live at those depths?

What Lives in the Mariana Trench?

For Megalodon to live in the Marina Trench it would not only need to be able to survive at such depths, but also have the necessary food supply.

Humans have only traveled to the bottom of the Challenger Deep twice. It is a forbidding landscape, and not very hospitable to a predatory shark. At that depth the only life is tiny amphipods, which wouldn't even rate as a snack for Megalodon.

Deep-sea creatures like the Lanternfish are likely way too small to sustain a Megalodon Shark.
Deep-sea creatures like the Lanternfish are likely way too small to sustain a Megalodon Shark. | Source

Starting at around 13,000 feet we see deep-sea fish begin to emerge, but these too are much too small to sustain a creature as large as Megalodon.

To find anything close to a prey item for a 60-foot Megalodon we need to come up to around 8,000 feet, which is the deepest whales are known to dive. A Sperm Whale would surely make a meal for a Megalodon.

In fact, one of Megalodon's ancient competitors was a massive predatory Sperm Whale with foot-long teeth known as Livyatan Melvillei. Do ancient battles still rage between modern whales and this massive shark?

There's a problem with this theory. If Megalodon still exists, and feeds on modern whales, we'd see evidence on whales that survived attacks. So, there must be another food source, one that never comes to the surface.

Giant Squid are believed to dive deep, and are prey for Sperm Whales. Might they be prey for Megalodon as well?

How Deep is the Mariana Trench?

The Search for the Megalodon Shark

So, it's clear Megalodon is probably not diving to the depths of the Mariana Trench. But it does seem reasonable that it could feed on Giant Squid, and perhaps the occasional Sperm Whale, at depths of 3-8,000 feet. That's still pretty deep.

So how does a coastal predator go from munching on whales, pinnipeds and massive turtles near shore, to eating deep-diving creatures in the Marina Trench?

One possibility is that a small population of Megalodon Sharks had already evolved to live at those depths before the larger population of Megalodon went extinct. Therefore, when the environmental changes occurred that led to the perceived extinction of the Megalodon Shark, the population that lived at great depths continued to thrive while the sharks who lived in shallower water died off.

We see this possibility at another locations where Megalodon is said to still exist. The coast of South Africa is one place where fishermen have allegedly witnessed massive sharks over 30 feet long.

The Sea of Cortez is another. The Sea of Cortez is a body of water between the Baja Peninsula and Mexico. It is rich in sea life, with several species of large whales in residence. At its deepest it is estimated at nearly 10,000 feet. Stories of massive sharks have circulated in the region for decades, and some believe the Megalodon Shark still lurks in the depths.

Great White Sharks are frequent visitors to the Sea of Cortez as well, and some have been known to dive to surprising depths. Can we make any comparisons between Megalodon and Great Whites, or any other living sharks?

Great White Sharks have been recorded diving as deep as 4,000 feet.
Great White Sharks have been recorded diving as deep as 4,000 feet. | Source

Megalodon Compared to Other Sharks

The Megamouth Shark is a massive fish reaching 20 feet in length or more. Despite its impressive size, it remained unknown until 1976. One of the reasons is because it is vertically migratory, meaning it only comes anywhere near the surface at night. In the daytime, it dives down to 500 feet or deeper.

If the Megamouth Shark remained hidden for so long simply because it dove to 500 feet for most of the day, what chances do we have of finding a Megalodon that may live at 3,000 feet?

Do any sharks live that deep? While the largest sharks in the world are well-known due to their near-surface behaviors, there are others who are much more reclusive.

The Portuguese Dogfish is a species of Sleeper Shark known to survive at depths of up to 12,000 feet.

The Pacific Sleeper Shark and Greenland Shark are huge animals reaching over 20 feet in length which can live at depths of up to 9,000 feet.

Even the Great White Shark has been recorded diving to depths of 4,000 feet.

So, there seems to be nothing preventing a Megalodon from living in the dark of the ocean, should it have reason to do so. However, this also tells us that Megalodon doesn't needs the depths of the Mariana Trench to stay hidden.

More to the point, since no sharks exist below 12,000 feet, and no large prey items, it seems highly unlikely that Megalodon would have evolved to live at such depth.

While that may be disheartening to Megalodon believers, in a way it's also encouraging. Since the average depth of the ocean is around 14,000 feet, that means the Megalodon Shark, even if it has evolved to live in very deep water, could exist in numerous places around the world.

Is Megalodon in the Mariana Trench?

Is it really possible that small populations of Megalodon Sharks evolved to feed on prey in very deep water, and because of this managed to avoid extinction? Could this remnant population of Megalodon Shark still thrive today, far out of sight of humans?

Maybe. But, while it may be true that Megalodon lives in the upper part of the water column over the Mariana Trench, it probably has no reason to hide in its depths. There's no food for it down there, and no other shark species are known to thrive that deep.

Of course it's also possible there is another piece of the puzzle not yet considered. If Megalodon has managed to remain hidden from modern science, isn't it also possible that another large unknown animal lives in the ocean depths as well?

If a large, unknown prey item lives in the Mariana Trench, is it possible Megalodon followed it down, and now lives deeper than any shark species every recorded?

Now that's an interesting idea, but unfortunately not one with any scientific merit, as of yet anyway. This is all theory, and food for thought. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide what you think is possible. Does the Megalodon Shark still live, deep in the Mariana Trench?

Your opinion: Does Megalodon Live in the Mariana Trench?

What say you? Is it possible the Megalodon Shark is still out there?

  • Yes! I think the Megalodon Shark lives in the Mariana Trench!
  • I think the Megalodon Shark lives, but not necessarily in the Mariana Trench.
  • I believe it is possible but unlikely that Megalodon is still out there, somewhere.
  • I say Megalodon is extinct.
See results without voting

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Comments 18 comments

sheilamyers 2 years ago

You put out some pretty convincing arguments about it being possible Megalodon still exists. I won't say I think it lives in the Trench (although that's possible), but I'm convinced there are things in our oceans we know nothing about and Megalodon may be one of them. What people report seeing could be just a very large shark of another species. On the other hand, scientists shouldn't brush off reported sightings of Megalodon, especially when some of those come from experienced fishermen and seamen who know what all of those things look like.

cryptid profile image

cryptid 2 years ago from Earth Author

Sure could be another large shark. Eyewitness accounts are, unfortunately, biased by the knowledge and experience of the witness. I like to think fishermen know the difference between a whale shark and something else, but you never know what they really saw.

sheilamyers 2 years ago

cryptid: Good point. Reliable witnesses have reporting seeing other cryptids and it has later been proven to be a mistaken identity or wishful thinking. That said, I think a lot of the reports of Megalodon are really just that - the people saw them.

CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 2 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Interesting hub cryptid. I would like to think that Megalodon is still out there somewhere in the depths of the ocean. I suppose it will take a dead Megalodon being found somewhere to prove it or, unfortunately, someone not just sighting the huge shark but also managing to catch and kill it

cryptid profile image

cryptid 2 years ago from Earth Author

I agree that is true. Even a tooth lodged in a whale or something would prove Megalodon is still around, but until we see such a thing the alleged sightings are nothing but compelling stories.

tabitha 2 years ago

I think the Megalodon The shark is in the marian trench.

Natalie 2 years ago

I love reading on Megalodon, your pages are very well written and raise some very interesting questions. Like you have said in another article , only 5% of our oceans have been explored, so what about the other 95% that is left untouched? Scientists have not captured concrete evidence of Mega, yet. I cannot wait for the day when there is scientific proof there is a HUGE shark out there! I believe the stories of these fishermen are not fabricated and they are seeing a very, very large shark of some sort! The ocean is a very big place and these sharks are good at hiding, we just have yet to seek them! Keep up the pages, they are awesome and very well written!

cryptid profile image

cryptid 2 years ago from Earth Author

Thanks for the kind words, Natalie. I appreciate your thoughtful comments!

Ana Koulouris profile image

Ana Koulouris 24 months ago from Chicago, IL

Very intelligently written and well organized. I'm looking forward to reading more of your articles. Kudos!

err 23 months ago

i guess it lives in the place and if it's a small population it might be just more than 1 and the population could later thrive in other places like south africa since global warming forces humback whales to go there

rn einhorn 21 months ago

People who readily assume megalodon exists today probably also believe in extraterrestrials and biblical miracles. Please keep these people away from the voting booths!

cryptid profile image

cryptid 21 months ago from Earth Author

I don't think anyone should readily assume anything ever, especially about political candidates.

john s 17 months ago

It's somewhat rare but not unheard for species to eat their own kind given the proper circumstances. If megalodon was running the risk of extinction and only a select population of them took to some location stable enough to survive it, is it not reasonable to assume that they simply eat their own dead and dying as a viable, sustainable food source?

As you say cryptid, food for thought.

cryptid profile image

cryptid 17 months ago from Earth Author

Interesting thought, John. I guess its possible, but I'd think there would need to be a fairly large number of Megalodon for that to happen. Plus, why wouldn't they just migrate to where whales and large food items live?

kibble11223 13 months ago

i really think that the megladon is real i am doing a presentation

Levius 11 months ago

I think it is possible but highly unlikely that they are out there somewhere in the deep. But we must not shrug off the fact that we still do not know a majority of our deep sea including the trench.

The deeps holds many secrets of our planet. What if there is an unknown massive superpredator that evolved to live in deep waters that can support the population of Megalodons?

If it is true, then the megalodons must evolve a set of tools to deal with the depth.

1. Supersized themselves into a massive proportion.

2. Extra gills to cope with the lack of oxygen.

3. Enhanced super sensitive sensory organs.

4. Layers of blubber and a heating system similar to that of a great white.

Those are the tools needed to exist at the Mariana Trench. So it is a possibility but highly unlikely.

cryptid profile image

cryptid 11 months ago from Earth Author

Good points Levius. For Megalodon to have made the adjustment from a surface, coastal hunter to a deep-ocean predator it would have required some serious evolutionary adaptations.

Mr A Jones 3 weeks ago

I don't rule out the possibility that Megalodon is still with us, but if the sightings of huge sharks are to be believed it's not beyond the realm of possibility that it is a species of shark thus far undescribed by science. And a large size does not necesarily mean a large prey item to sustain it. It just means a large amount of prey, or a very slow and long life at low temperatures.

Megalodon? Unlikely. A large, undescribed shark waiting to be documented? Very likely in my opinion, given how little of the oceans we have explored thus far. It really is the final frontier (on Earth).

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    With interests in science, nature and the paranormal, cryptid explores fringe topics from a unique and sometimes controversial perspective.

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