Let’s Talk About The CookieCutter Shark
So this cute, and very odd looking little shark, is part of the dogfish family, similar in colour with no anal fin, the cookiecutter shark grows to between 40cm and 60cm in length. Some people refer to this shark as the cigar shark because of its “cigar-like” shape, but it’s cookiecutter name comes from the bite marks it leaves on / in its prey. Ever baked cookies? If you have, you’ll know they don’t just fall into those cute shapes, you use a cookie cutter. The cookiecutter shark’s bite leaves a round cookie cutter type shape in the flesh of larger marine animals, including whales and tuna. And of course, having the size teeth they have, helps too! Did you know that in relation to the size of the shark, it has the largest teeth of all the sharks, comparing apples with apples of course! And these little guys test bite everything!
As with all sharks, the CookieCutter Shark sheds teeth and often they will digest these teeth to strengthen their skeleton, which is believed to aid in the diving these little guys do, to the depths that they do.
They have such a cool adaptation too, which helps on the attraction of potential prey, they are bioluminescent, which means they glow! They emit a greenish light from their under bellies which is covered with tiny light producing organs known as photophores! How cool is that! Living in depths exceeding 1000 meters, this is a helpful little bit of biological adaptation.
At night, these weird looking sharks, move closer to the surface to feed, but still remain at depth of between 90 and 100 meters, where they light up the ocean, attracting their prey, which include dolphins, whales, tuna, stingray, seal, squid and marlin! It’s like a parasite if you think about it, because once the larger fish come in to investigate the glow and shadow emitted from the CookieCutter, the shark then launches its attack, and attaches itself to its prey, using its powerful sucker like lips. Then with its massive teeth, it starts its meal. Though these bites are not fatal, one can imagine they would be rather painful! All sharks are ingenious hunters, no reason this little guy shouldn’t be too!
CookieCutters give birth to fully developed pups, between 6 and 12 with each litter, after a gestation period of between 12 and 22 months. Yeah, we don’t know much about these little guys either, other than their fascinating eating habits.
Fortunately, as they live is such depths, these sharks are not endangered and don’t really come into contact with humans as much.
Come visit us and view the lions of our seas from the comfort of our boat and cage! Come Great White Shark cage diving!
Till we meet again, keep that toothy grin!
By Nadine Bentley