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Caught in Pictures: Shark Swallows Another Shark Whole
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Right off of the Great Keppel Island, near the southern Great Barrier Reef, a shark decided to devour another whole bamboo shark.

“The white bamboo shark appeared first, and as we came closer, we suddenly realized that its head was not hidden under a ledge, as is usual, but in the mouth of the very well-camouflaged wobbegong,” Daniela Ceccarelli. Ceccarelli is from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence (ARC) for Coral Reef Studies. She also said that “witnessing predation events like this is very rare.”

  
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The sharks were seen by Ceccarelli and David Williams, another member of ARC. The two were working on a fish census on August 1, 2011 when they noticed the sharks. The shark doing the eating in this photo is the tasseled wobbegong shark, which measures over four feet long. The prey was the 3.2 foot bamboo shark. The wobbegong shark operates using ambush tactics as it hides and waits for its prey before attacking at a very fast speed.

“It’s not unusual for them to prey on other sharks, especially small sharks such as the bamboo shark, as they forage for invertebrates on the seabed,” Ceccarelli said.

The two on the fish census starred at the two sharks for close to 30 minutes, with neither shark making a move during that timeframe. The bamboo shark was not further ingested by the wobbegong shark while the two in attendance looked on at the scene.

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“We didn’t observe the end of the predation event, but as the bamboo shark was most definitely dead, we assume that the wobbegong eventually consumed it,” Ceccarelli said.

Ceccarelli and Williams both said that for the wobbegong shark would have needed a couple of more hours to completely devour the bamboo shark. The researchers also said that wobbegong sharks have dislocating jaws and rear-pointing teeth that allow them to grasp onto its prey tightly and then swallow it whole.





 

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