Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Short Sharp Science - Shark-eating shark snapped in Australia

Caroline Morley, online picture researcher
)Image: Daniela Ceccarelli)
It's a shark-eat-shark world out there. Or so researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies found out while diving on the Great Barrier Reef.
They discovered a tasselled wobbegong shark (Eucrossorhinus dasypogon) tucking into a meal of another shark.
Wobbegongs usually lie in wait on the sea floor for a passing fish or a tasty invertebrate to swim by and then ambush their prey. This one got lucky with a brown-banded bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum), and was in the process of swallowing it whole and head first. The wobbegong's appetite for large meals is helped by its dislocating jaw, large gape and rearward-pointing teeth.
While wobbegongs eating sharks has been recorded before from stomach contents, this is the first time it has been photographed in action.
Thirteen per cent of shark bites on humans are from small wobbegongs. These bites are not the shark looking for lunch - they're usually a result of them being trodden on, thus the origin of their nickname, the carpet shark.

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