This Tiny Shark's Bite Looks Like It Attacked Its Victim With An Ice Cream Scoop

Cookiecutter shark (Isistius brasiliensis)NOAA/Public DomainThe cookiecutter shark (Isistius brasiliensis).

It’s Shark Week, so we wanted to tell you about some of our favourite sharks.

My favourite is the cat-sized shark in the picture above — it doesn’t look that intimidating, but its bite is quite fearsome.

It uses its razor-sharp teeth to take a huge chunk out of anything it can find — including other sharks, fish, dolphins, humans, and even electrical equipment in the ocean. The distinctive bites have been found in all kinds of fish and other sharks, and even a human has been attacked by the little guys.

The cookiecutter shark bites a victim, then with a circular sawing motion extracts a clump of flesh. Here’s what the bites look like:

Public domainThis image is a fish called a Pomfret with damage from a cookiecutter shark (Isistius brasiliensis)

A recent paper out in Pacific Science earlier this year detailed the cookiecutter bites on a great white shark.

Here’s what the shark looked like after the attack:

Gerardo del Villar/Pacific ScienceA great white with a cookiecutter shark bite.
G. del Villar/Pacific Science.The arrow shows a healed scar.

Public domainThe creepy cookiecutter shark’s toothy grin, which leaves scoop-shaped holes in its prey.

The shark’s stomach glows, and it has a dark band around its neck that looks like a fish, which could be what lures other sharks to it.

Another great fact about the cookiecutter shark? It has the power to take down an entire nuclear submarine.

The fish’s strange bite can get at the softer areas of the submarines, National Geographic’s Ed Yong reports:

The fearless cookie-cutters have even disabled the most dangerous ocean creature of all — the nuclear submarine. They attacked exposed soft areas including electrical cables and rubber sonar domes. In several cases, the attacks effectively blinded the subs, forcing them back to base for repairs. They later returned, fitted with fibreglass coverings.

The attacks happened in the 1970s and the problem seems to have been taken care of, though in several cases the sharks did enough damage to the vessel’s sonar equipment that the oils inside that transmit sound would leak out of the ship and break the equipment — the subs could no longer see what was around them, according to the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research.

Nuclear subs obviously aren’t all that tasty, but the sharks seem to bite just about anything — even research equipment in the ocean.

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