cookiecutter shark

Attack of the Cookie Cutter Sharks

One of the things I LOVE about scuba diving is there’s always something new to learn and discover- a continual stream of fascination!

I just met a new and most interesting friend who is a marine biologist that studies sharks and promotes shark awareness. 

He mentioned a few sharks I’d never heard of. 

One that I want to share about today is the Cookie Cutter Shark.

Since we talked I’ve done a little research on them- this is what I learned:

They are classified as a parasite; a parasite by definition hurt their prey but they don’t kill them. The Cookie Cutter Shark is the only parasite in the shark family. 

Adults only grow between 6.5–22 in (42–56 cm), one of the smallest sharks in the world.  

The cookie cutter shark was also known as the Cigar Shark. 

They live in the deep warm coastal waters around the equator.  By deep; we’re talk’in more than 12K feet deep (over 3810 m)!  They spend their days in the deep water and come closer to the surface to feed at night.  Most marine life is nocturnal.

Like many deep-sea creatures they are bioluminescent.  Their bellies are covered by photospheres; producing a green glow which tricks fish into thinking they’re smaller fish. 

Their hunting technique is to swim below their prey or just pass by then surprise and attack!  They perform suction on their victim before spinning around and taking a chunk out of their flesh.  This results in an almost perfectly round crater. 🙁  Yikes!! 

They aren’t choosy about their victims!  They attack seals, whales, dolphins, great white sharks, megamouth sharks, and even submarines! 

There have been a few recorded cases of cookie cutter sharks taking a bite out of the rubber sonar domes of passing subs, sometimes inflicting enough damage to cause an oil leak. 

In this photo’ you’ll see the damage Cookie Cutter Sharks inflicted on a whale and a fish.

If we are ever diving around the equator together, please remind me why I may want to forgo the night dive!

Oh!  I just read of more sightings around Hawaii & Australia!  Given that Australia is 1,727.87 mi (2,780.75 km) south of the equator- I must consult with my new friend about the potential locations where these pesky predators may be found!

I may need to order a steel mesh full length wet suit for future night dives!   Just kidding!

I truly don’t want to see one unless it’s in a lab! 😉