Small sharks eating great white sharks

This video says about itself:

10 August 2014

One of world’s weirdest shark species. Learn facts about the cookie cutter shark that bites whales, deep sea fish, and even submarines.

Did you know that there is a shark that is also classified as a parasite. Parasites by rule hurt their prey but don’t kill them.

The only parasite in the shark family. They average 20 inches long, about the length of the average ferret and are one of the smallest sharks in the world, the smallest being the dwarf lantern shark of Colombia and Venezuela.

The cookie-cutter shark used to be called the cigar shark and it’s pretty easy to see why. So where did the name cookie cutter shark come from?

First a little about its lifestyle and it will all become clear. They live in the deep warm coastal waters, near islands, around the equator. I don’t mean kind of deep.

These guys spend their days at depths equal to that of the Titanic Wreck. At night they come to the surface to feed, , and they have one of the best evolutionary fish lures in the world.

Like many deep-sea creatures they are bioluminescent. Their bellies are covered by photophores which emit a greenish glow that looks like a smaller fish to anything below it.

Their bioluminescence is so strong that they’ll continue to glow up to 3 hours after they die.

As for the hunt their technique is to wait for something to try and eat them from below, or just pass by, then they whip around and form a tight suction with their mouth on the attacker.

Then they turn in a circle and carve out a chunk of the animal and swallow it before letting go. The result is an almost perfectly round crater looking hole resembling one made by a cookie cutter, hence the name change from cigar shark.

They aren’t choosy about their victims either. They attack seals, whales, dolphins, large fish, mega mouth sharks, and even nuclear submarines.

There have been a few recorded cases of cookie cutter sharks taking a bite out of the rubber sonar domes of passing submarines. Sometimes inflicting enough damage to cause an oil leak and send them back to port.

But don’t worry there have been very few recorded attacks on humans, since they only come up from the depths at night and they’re so small they’re not deadly. They’re parasites remember.

From Discovery News:

Cookiecutter Sharks Tear Flesh Out of Great Whites

Jan 26, 2013 08:17 AM ET // by Jennifer Viegas

Great white sharks have long been at the top of the marine food chain, but it turns out they are victimized by ravenous cookiecutter sharks, which bite out chunks of great white flesh.

The bites, recently documented in the journal Pacific Science, are like the ultimate sushi. Lone cookiecutters sneak up on their great white victims before taking a big bite. The sneaky predators rotate their bodies, allowing them to remove plugs of flesh. This leaves the great white victim grossly injured, but still alive.

The attack is quite a feat, considering that cookiecutter sharks are just one-tenth the size of great whites.

“In most cases, these little sharks will eat little prey, but with cookiecutter sharks, you have this unique situation of a small shark that will target animals much, much larger than itself, up to 10 times their own size, and that’s pretty unique in the animal kingdom — it’s a very active foraging process,” co-author Yannis Papastamatiou, a marine biologist in the division of ichthyology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus, said in a press release.

For the study, the researchers analyzed a bite wound near a great white shark’s mouth. The great white shark was photographed by a diver in a shark cage near Guadalupe Island in the Pacific Ocean.

Cookiecutters inhabit deep tropical waters. Their bites have been found on many animals, including tuna, whales, dolphins, swordfish, elephant seals and even humans.

“When biologists first started noticing the bites on the pelagic fishes and whales, they thought it might be a viral infection because they didn’t know any animal that could bite and leave such a smooth wound,” Papastamatiou said. “And it’s not only animals — they’ve taken chunks of plastic out of submarines and underwater oceanographic equipment, so it’s pretty amazing what they can do.”

This “talent” is made possible by the cookiecutter’s unique teeth. Unlike the teeth of other sharks, those of cookiecutter sharks are connected at the bottom in the lower jaw, allowing them to scoop out the flesh of their victims like a living melon baller.

These sharks have the largest teeth of any shark in relation to the size of their jaws. Cookiecutters are also bioluminescent, meaning they produce their own light on parts of their bodies. Their hunting tactic is to hide and surprise larger fish, taking bites before quickly leaving the scene.

“It’s a very mysterious little fish in a lot of ways and that’s mainly because it’s so difficult to study — you hardly ever see them alive,” Papastamatiou said. “We really have to study cookiecutter sharks based on either dead specimens or by their bite wounds on prey.”

John McKosker, a senior scientist at the California Academy of Sciences, added, “The public thinks that white sharks, based on the film ‘Jaws,’ are the ultimate predator, whereas even white sharks are preyed upon in this case, by a shark no longer than your forearm.”

PLYMOUTH, UK// West Country waters are home to many amazing sharks, skates and rays including the superfast Shortfin Mako and the giant Basking Shark. This weekend 150 shark experts and delegates from all over the world will attend the annual European Elasmobranch Association (EEA) conference hosted by the Plymouth-based Shark Trust: here.


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