Cookie-Cutter Shark Takes Bite Out of Swimmer

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Cookie Cutter Shark Jaws

Shark attacks happen far too often among swimmers, surfers, and spear fishermen, but the usual culprits are bull sharks or some other species that frequent beaches and other populated areas. In a bizarre story out of Hawaii, a swimmer was attacked, but not by the typical sharks. Instead, it was a cookie-cutter shark that decided to snack on the swimmer. The incident is actually a couple of years old now, but recent stories state that the long-distance swimmer was trying to cross a channel during a 30-mile swim at night. The primarily nocturnal shark took a bite out of the swimmer’s chest and calf, making this unusual attack the first ever documented case of a cookie-cutter shark attack on a human.

Cookie-cutter sharks get their name from the shape of the bite wounds left on their victims, which are often fish and whales. Their unusual teeth gouge out a large chunk of flesh, leaving behind a gaping wound. The shark rarely kills it’s target, but the injuries can be severe enough that they could cause massive blood loss. In the case of this diver, death never occurred. However, extensive plastic surgery was needed to fix the wounds.

Another aspect of the cookie-cutter shark’s lifestyle that makes contact with a human extremely rare, other than it’s nocturnal feeding activities, is the fact that these fish inhabit the open tropical ocean. Swimmers and surfers obviously swim near beaches and in shallow waters, but this isn’t the case for the long-distance swimmer that was attacked obviously. These sharks usually hangs out among squid at night, making use of bioluminescence to fit into the crowd. When large predators approach, the shark darts out of the squid and takes a chunk of flesh before quickly returning to the depths. Besides stealth, their massive teeth aid in their slash and grab hunting style. Cookie-cutters have the largest teeth of any shark in relation to the size of their jaws, allowing them to maximize their short time with their victims.

Original story seen on LiveScience via MSNBC.

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  • “Shark attacks happen far too often among swimmers, surfers, and spear
    fishermen, but the usual culprits are bull sharks or some other species
    that frequent beaches and other populated areas.”
    I’m sorry but I severely dislike the tone set in this post. Posts like this is what causes all the hatred against and fear of sharks and indirectly the severe decline in their natural populations. You make it sound like these evil sharks are patrolling beaches and “other populated areas” just waiting to get you. I’m not sure that you are aware that on average, there are about 65 shark attacks worldwide each year; a
    handful of which are fatal. Heck, more people get killed digging sand holes each year than people getting killed by sharks.
    Most sharks have had their numbers slashed in half over the past 15 years and are still declining at alarming rates, maybe write a post about that rather than this, well I’m sorry to say, crap.
    I hope to see this post posted rather than deleted and ignored, criticism isn’t always a bad thing.

    • That is not the tone I was going for, rather it was just a generalized statement. Attacks do happen too often, as even one attack would be more than desired. The point that I was trying to make though was that the attack from this shark is rare because most attacks come from bull sharks, tiger sharks, and multiple others.

      Keeping all that in mind, I consider every shark attack as being the fault of the human. Sharks own the seas and we are just visitors. Human encroachment into nature always leads to a clash of some sort, usually with the animals being the victims, but ocassionally the tables are turned and people die or are severely injured. I never showed any sympathy for the nighttime swimmer described in the story, and I actually look down on his actions. You swim at night so expect to get hurt.