Cookie Cutter Shark


Sharks are pretty pleased with themselves, so they should be, they’re basically a rippling slab of muscle in gunmetal grey, row upon row of huge teeth… all in all awesome eating machines. When they’re not eating seals like hors d’oeuvres and hippies on boards like a small blini… they just like to cruise around the oceans looking like a whole barrel of tough.

 a satisfactory brunch

a satisfactory brunch

Some sharks of course don’t look so tough, but they’re certainly not to be trifled with; the bizarre hammerhead, goblin and frilled sharks…

…and then there is the cookie cutter shark, a snivelling little sneak who looks more like a fat ladies arm holding a kitchen utensil.

the new desk tidies were a surprising hit

the new desk tidies were a surprising hit

This chubby little rake likes to take a chomp out of bigger fish by pretending to be a tasty snack, what’s more the way it does it is rather intriguing.

You see a lot of fish have cells all along their belly that give off light. It’s a rather clever way of not getting eaten, if a big predator looks up from deeper water then the cells that give off light means that they’re not silhouetted against the sun, and so are very nearly invisible.

The cookie cutter shark has taken this devilishly clever trick a step further. They have a patch of black near their throat that doesn’t have any bioluminescent cells. So predators see a tiny black speck above their heads darting around like a small fish. Not surprisingly the predator bolts at the easy target, and this is when the cookie cutter pounces. Using the speed of the predator it latches on to its feckless attacker using its big rubbery lips. Its huge teeth, the biggest in any shark species relative to its size, slice into the hapless predators flesh… taking a perfectly-circular biscuit shaped bite.

la! ... la! ... la! ... la! la! la!

la! ... la! ... la! ... la! la! la!

Incidentally although many fish, like the angler fish, use bioluminescence to lure prey and indeed to avoid it. The cookie cutter shark is the only example of lack of bioluminescence being used to get a meal ticket.

Of course like most sharks, metaphorically-speaking, the cookie cutters are almost entirely bone from the neck upwards and so often take lumps out of the wrong thing. Submarines, microphones and electric cables have all been subject to the cookie cutter’s fearsome chomp.

Thankfully only once has a human been on the receiving end of cookie cutter’s gnashers. Big tough sharks, on the other hand, the gunmetal grey slabs of muscle, the ones that eat dolphins as an amuse-bouche, are often found with more than one big circular lump out of their backside.

Published in: on June 18, 2009 at 12:07 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Sir PS, now I understand your game. You have been lulling us into trusting you by writing about real animals and now you have started making stuff up. I was willing to buy the bioluminescence and the tiny dark spot, but you lost me at the perfectly round biscuit shaped bite.

    And don’t think you can convince me by telling me to look at all those Google results for ‘cookie cutter shark’ – you think I believe everything I read on the Internet?

    • I wish I were a simple scoundrel young Wombat! Do keep reading, coming up next week… the Gingerbreadman Tiger and the Ice Cream Bunny

  2. that was cute with the la la la but ive have worse

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