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Aug 11 2014

Cookiecutter Shark

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.  Meet the cookie cutter shark.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.

Meet the Cookiecutter Shark


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

strange-deep-sea-creaturesLike 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 holeresembling 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, megamouth 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’ve 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.

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whale attacked by cookiecutter sharks