In case you didn’t know, sharks never stop moving, and as a result they burn a very large amount of calories. Always being on the move invariably means that sharks are almost always hungry, since the energy they require to keep going comes from the food they eat. In short: these powerful predators of the oceans are always on the prowl for their next meal. As a result, they have been known to eat almost anything, which perhaps explains why some rather unusual objects have been found in their bellies. Here’s a closer look at some of the weird things found in the stomachs of sharks.
Tiger sharks are often referred to as the “garbage cans of the ocean” as they are notoriously non-fussy eaters. This indiscriminate eating habit of theirs usually means that they end up devouring numerous objects that are, in fact, inedible. Everything from license plates to boots and fur coats have been found in the bellies of Tiger sharks, yet scientists at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory were still shocked when they discovered the bones of an adult, 7ft long dolphin in the stomach of a massive 9ft long Tiger shark. They were not only baffled by the size of the dolphin that has been swallowed, but also by the fact that it was a dolphin to begin with. Dolphins tend to travel in packs in an attempt to stave off any potential shark attacks, and if that fails, they can usually defend themselves pretty well. The fact that a dolphin appeared in this shark’s stomach means that the shark more than likely ended up having to exert far more energy than he would have liked to in order to catch that unfortunate dolphin.
What started out as a mission to prepare a shark curry ended in the discovery of a 16th Century Portuguese artefact in Klebang in Malaysia. Whilst filleting one of the baby sharks she had bought at the fish market earlier that day, Suseela Menon came across the ancient treasure in the shark’s gut. Medallions such as this were thought to be worn by soldiers as a form of divine protection, and it was more than likely because of its godlike connotations that this find was considered to be a “blessing from the sea”. Suffice to say, the shark was not eaten and the medallion relic was kept by Menon.
Bottles of Wine
In 1942, a French fishing trawler caught a Blue shark that the fishermen soon discovered was quite the vino lover – a bottle of Madeira wine was found in the shark’s belly. Apparently the wine still tasted really delicious, even after all the time it had been in the stomach. Wine that spends any time in the sea tends to have a more mellow taste, as the different process of osmosis that takes place underwater tends to have an effect on the liquid that actually seems to improve the flavour. What can’t be explained, though, is how the super strong acid in the shark’s stomach didn’t destroy the bottle completely. Perhaps it wasn’t in there for long enough? We’ll never know.
This honestly does not seem fathomable, but it happened. The remains of a polar bear was once discovered in the belly of a Greenland shark. Experts declared that the bear was more than likely ill or injured as a healthy, full strength polar bear would be no match for a shark. Over the years, sharks have begun to consume more and more seals and as a result, are visiting shallower waters more often. This may help explain exactly how a shark was able to position itself in such a way that should it come across a sickly polar bear, it just might be able to attack and subdue it. This would be a rare occurrence but not, technically, impossible.
Knight in Armour
This is a rather bizarre one that has never strictly been confirmed, but according to Guillaume Rondelet, an esteemed French naturalist from the 16th Century, the remains of a knight still wearing his armour were once located in the gut of a Great White shark. Rondelet had a strong interest in marine life and was held in high regard within the world of science, so the chances are that he was telling the truth about this grisly discovery. The belly ache that shark must have experienced as a result of digesting solid armour was probably excruciating. There was no mention of a sword, so let’s hope it didn’t go that far.
Taking us back to 1823, fishermen in the West Indies discovered a cannon ball wedged in the stomach of a shark they had caught. Initially confused as to how this weighty iron ball could have possibly found its way into the shark’s gut, they eventually concluded that it must have been attached to a person, and that the mammoth creature must have devoured the body along with the weight.
There have been a slew of strange stomach contents found in sharks over the last few years – we’re talking the all the crazy items above, as well as porcupines, cans of paint, packs of cigarettes, livestock and crocodile heads. The list is endless and it would seem that the more obscure the object, the more likely it is to turn up in the gut of a shark.
Image credits: http://www.marineland.net/images/DolphinHeader.jpg