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The Shark You Don't See - Cookiecutter Shark

Submitted by admin on 2010-08-03 | Last Modified on 2010-08-04

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I'm sure by now if you've heard of the Great White, Nurse Sharks, Tiger Sharks, the different reef sharks and many more- I bet many of you have even swam along side many of them. Though one shark which will elude most scuba divers is the Cookiecutter shark, also known as the Cigar shark.

The Cookiecutter shark is a deep sea fish which tends to live at depths in excess of 1000 meters, though this shark has been recorded at depths almost four times that. It is a species of dogfish shark under the Dalatiidae family, and grows to maximum lengths of half a meter. Like many of the deep sea fish, the Cookiecutter shark tends to ascend to much shallower depths during the night time hours and has even been seen approaching the surface of the water during these hours, also much like other deep sea fish the Cookiecutter shark makes use of bioluminescence, and have photophores which emit a strong green glow under the water.

Physically the Cookiecutter shark looks a lot different to most regular sharks. Where as most sharks appear to be somewhat majestic and a work of art, like that of a modern race car, which are often in fact modelled after the shark; The Cookiecutter shark has an almost pregnant appearance, with the lower end of the body drooping down, more of a round cylinderical shape, than the typical flat, streamlined aggressive styling nature provided it's cousin, the reef shark. It also has a distinct rounded nose, which is quite contraire to the majority of sharks. They have dark areas around their neck, like collars- which are believed to work as a lure.

While one may not see the Cookiecutter very often it is still treated as a creature of least concern by the IUCN. This is simply because while interactions with this creature are rare, the species it's self is spread through out much of the world, living in it's own realm. A place where man tends not to venture, and where most of our oceanic mysteries lay.

A unique aspect of the Cookiecutter shark is it's bite, and is in fact where it gets it's name from. The jaw consists of about 35 tooth rows on the top and about 27 on the bottom. The upper teeth are fairly small and narrow, while the bottom teeth are extremely sharp, and much longer than the teeth in the upper jaw. The jaw of the Cookiecutter shark also moves back and forth while in the process of attacking. This leads to a very unique bite mark, the bite of this shark is rather small and rounded, though extremely deep. The wound left in the prey looks much like that of when you use a cookie cutter on dough and are left with a clean hole.

The Cookiecutter's bite has been found on various objects, including telecommunications cables and dead bodies which were retrieved from the water. While attacks on humans are extremely rare, there have been a hand full of accounts where it has been blamed for a few attacks on humans, mostly shipwreck survivors during the night time.

The lives of deep sea fish are quite different to that of regular fish, their evolutionary paths took slightly different roads at some point. Deep sea fish have a much slower metabolism and they typically live a lot longer than ordinary fish, reaching sexual maturity in some cases only once they reach in excess of 30 years old.


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