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Shark Week Profiles: Cookiecutter Shark

August 14, 2012

Image source: Wikipedia

Species: Cookiecutter Shark
Scientific name: Isistius brasiliensis
Length: 17–22 inches
Distribution: Warm and tropical oceanic basins, as deep as 2 miles below the surface.
Aliases: Cigar shark

You might think that because this is a wee little shark with big eyes and the word “cookie” in its name, that it will fall into the adorable category.

I’m sorry, no. This beast is horrifying.

The cookiecutter gets its name from it’s technique of sneaking close, biting a much larger fish, rotating its body, and chomping out a perfect little circle of flesh, leaving a bite sized hole behind. Think of it as a hungry, swimming, ninja melon baller. If you don’t mind gore, check out the cookiecutter’s handiwork here. There has even been one documented attack on a long distance swimmer, who survived.

The cookiecutter sets itself apart from other sharks when it comes to teeth. They have the biggest teeth in relation to jaw size of any other shark.

They’re also unique when it comes to bioluminescence, glowing a bright green on various spots along its body. These glowing spots break up the shark’s silhouette in the dark water, a technique called counterillumination. This makes the shark’s prey think the shark is a much smaller fish, rather than a biting nightmare demon.

Check out the video below for more info about the cookiecutter shark.

 

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