Shark overturns intact prey and scares scientists in Australia

A case in Australia has left scientists baffled. A tiger shark vomited its meal in front of researchers off the coast of Orpheus Island in northern Queensland. The most impressive thing is that when the prey was regurgitated, its body was completely intact.

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Shark vomiting prey (Image: Nick Lubitz/James Cook University)

The phenomenon is considered quite rare

Marine biologist Nicholas Lubitz of James Cook University in Australia captured the amazing moment a 10-foot-long shark spat out a short-snouted echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus). The body of the mammal is covered with thorns.

According to the researchers, this incident may have been caused by a combination of the shark’s stress and indigestion. They explain that this is very rare, but it can happen.

The fact that the prey was exactly a mammal also attracted attention. This is because this animal is rarely found in the ocean, where it becomes food only for a few moments.

Scientists believe the short-snouted echidna was likely swimming in the island’s shallow waters, or perhaps even swimming between nearby islands in search of food or a mate, when it was eaten. Because the animal was still fully intact when it was regurgitated, Lubitz suspects it hadn’t even had time to begin digestion.

Short-snouted echidna (Image: Susan Flashman/Shutterstock)

Another case of shark vomiting

  • The same researchers have recorded another similar incident.
  • This time, a tiger shark vomited up parts of the dugong.
  • The animal is a close relative of the manatee.
  • The researchers want to use the images to better analyze what happened.
  • In addition to better understanding the animals’ digestive systems, scientists want to improve their understanding of the hunting behavior of these species.
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About the author: Cory Weinberg

"Student. Subtly charming organizer. Certified music advocate. Writer. Lifelong troublemaker. Twitter lover."

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