by chelsea schuyler
Okay class, how many oceanic creatures do you know that are named after kitchen appliances?
oo, oo-ooo, OOOO OOOOOOO
Dudes. There’s this shark, that is small, but awesome. Its called the Cookie-cutter shark, only gets up to 20 inches, chills out down in the depths at night, swims up to the upper layers in the day, and looks like this:
So cool points number one: it’s bioluminescent but uses it to camouflage itself, literally, looking just like the seafloor from above, and the sea surface from below. This is called “counter-illumination.”
(One site describes this as a “common mesopelagic anti-predatory strategy” which is hilarious because meso just means ‘middle’, and pelagic ‘open ocean.’ “Yeah, it’s totally common somewhere in the anywhere of the ocean.” Oh, that narrows it down. Kinda like shining is common among stars, IN SPACE.
But to be fair, the mesopelagic zone, despite its Latin ambiguity, is technically defined as 200m – 1000m deep in the open sea. Its semi-light penetration has earned it the nickname of Twilight zone, which you have now entered by the way.)
But see that dark ring around its neck? That part doesn’t contain any bioluminescence, and is the only visible part to other species around it. Like wearing an invisibility cloak but leaving a crack open around your waist. Which I don’t know why you would do, and apparently you don’t deserve one of the most coveted magic items in all super-hero history.
Anyway, the sharks do it because now they appear to be a mini-fish. Good prey for say, a tuna, or dolphin. Predator comes down to check it out, thinkin easy catch, and BAM Cookie-cutter shark latches onto to its side with its suctorial lips, sinks its small, sharp top teeth in, then twirls its body around to carve out a cookie-shaped plug with its larger, serrated, lower teeth. The depth of which can be twice the diameter!
Victims of this attack usually respond with a reverberatory MotherF***er!! which can be heard for 6.2 miles.
But they usually live through it (unlike the trainer in Seaworld who got killed by that Orca a couple months ago. She was dragged into the pool and possibly drowned, or died of what my favorite news report described as: “wounds inconsistent with life.” HAH).
The shark does eat squid and small fish like a normal non-psycho, this is just when the opportunity presents itself. Making our Cookie a facultative ectoparasite. Which is science speak for: optional (facultative), from the outside not the inside (ecto), bitch.
Oh, but that’s not all. You know how a lot of sharks have multiple rows of teeth? And they’re constantly losing them with normal wear and tear (oh hoh) but it’s no big thing cuz it’s just one tooth and there’s more waiting in line? Well, Cookie-cutter sharks are the same way, except that their teeth are all connected to either the top or bottom row, and they shed an entire row in one big chunk! But the
WEIRDEST thing is that they swallow it! (which is it baby, spits or swallows?) Scientists (hellooo scientists) say they’re possibly reclaiming all the lost calcium. What?! Explain this to me please. I need iron in my diet, doesn’t mean I’m gonna go gulping no chainsaw! Soft tissue innards much?
They’re all over the world, but often found near islands. This just in: Also found near islands: humans reporting on the locations of Cookie-cutter sharks. Whoa.
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