A strange looking false catshark - which has being compared to a discarded sofa - was captured by marine biologists off the coast of the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides
It has been compared to the ugly blobfish or a discarded sofa, but a rare species of shark has been in the deep waters off the coast of Scotland.

The false catshark, also known as Psuedotrakias microdon, was captured by marine biologists taking part in a tagging survey of sea creatures close to the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides.

It was only the second time the fish, which can grow up to 9.8 feet long (3m) was found in the waters around Scotland.

Living at depths of up to 4,600 feet (1,400 metres), they have been found living all around the world, including off the coast of Canada, Brazil, Portugal, Iceland, New Zealand, Hawaii and Japan.

With its long narrow eyes and large heavy body, it swims slowly along to the sea floor, preying upon on fishes and invertebrates and scavenging on carcasses.

The slow creature earned its scientific name - microdon - due to the rows of tiny teeth that fill its large mouth.

Scientists working for Marine Scotland who captured the ugly looking creature off Barra said it raised the number of sharks and related cartilaginous fish, known as elasmobranchs, living around Scotland to 72.

A spokesman for the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme said the six feet long (2m), nine stone (60kg) shark's strange appearance had earned it the nickname 'the sofa shark'.

Dr Francis Neat, who was one of the Marine Scotland team taking part in the survey, said: 'I was pretty surprised when it landed in our boat. We hadn't seen one in ten years.

'It's not unique to Scotland but it's certainly interesting to look at - it's a big and baggy looking creature.

'It looks a lot like a soft, discarded sofa when it's just lying there.'

The researchers quickly measured and weighed the animal before returning it back to the water.

It is only the second time biologists have seen a false catshark in Scottish waters. A smaller 5.9 feet long (1.8m) fish weighing three stone (25kg) was caught in 2000 around around 50 miles south west of the Isle of Barra close to the Vidal Bank.

The shark was discovered in the deep water off the coast of the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides (above)

False catshark (pictured) are only rarely glimpsed but have been recorded in deep sea locations around the world. It earned its scientific name Psuedotrakias microdon due to the rows of tiny teeth in its large mouth
A spokesman for the Scottish Shark Tagging programme said they had now added the false catshark to the list of sharks that reside in British waters.

He said: 'We've never seen this type of shark in Scotland before and it's great to add it to our long list of species in Scotland.

'Not too long ago we were told that there were only 32 different types of shark in Scottish waters, but in the past year we've learned that there are actually 72 different species, many of which are in deep water.'

The creature (illustrated) is a slow moving predator that usually swims along the bottom of the ocean snatching fish or invertebrates with its large mouth. It is also though to scavenge on carcasses that sink
Catherine Gordon, conservation officer at the Shark Trust, said: 'This is certainly an exciting catch - the deep-sea waters off Scotland's west coast continue to throw up some surprising finds.

'While this particular shark is commonly known as a false catshark (Pseudotriakis microdon), its description by one of the marine biologists aboard the survey vessel as a "Sofa Shark" is very apt given its anatomy: its large, soft body and fins together could suggest an inactive and sluggish lifestyle.

'The false catshark feeds primarily on bony fish - but is also known to prey on the bioluminescent lantern sharks, squid and octopuses.

'Because so little is known about this species' biology and population trends, the false catshark is listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.'