Have you ever wondered what preys on sharks? Thanks to new, deep-sea footage captured by the NOAA ship the Oceans Explorer, you can witness the answer for yourself.
Recently, the ship captured footage of an ocean floor shark feeding frenzy off the coast of South Carolina. About 1:45 minutes in, the video intensifies when a massive grouper slinks in front of the camera with a fully intact, still wiggling, shark, hanging out of its mouth.
According to IFLScience, the video was captured on Dive 07 of the oceanic expedition. Researchers aboard the ship used remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer or D2. The ROV was skimming along the bottom of the ocean at a depth of around 450 meters (1,476) feet in search of a topographic rise researchers believed was a ship. Instead, it stumbled across a group of hungry sharks.
As the ROV floats over a wide array of oceanic rocks, corals, sponges, and invertebrates, it comes across a large group of sharks feeding on a 2.5-meter-long (8-foot) dead swordfish on the seafloor. It appears that at least 11 individual sharks belonging to two deep-sea dovish species of the family Squalidae showed up for the feast. The smaller sharks are the Genie’s dogfish.
After a while, a large bony Wreckfish, also known as a sea bass or stone bass, emerges with the tail fin of a dogfish shark sticking out of its mouth. Wreckfish are impressive in size. Not only can they reach a weight of 100 kilograms (220 pounds), but they can grow to 75 centimeters (2.5 feet in length) and live up to 70 years.
“[It’s] more evidence really of how these systems work,” an Okeanos team member says in the video. “Wow, I’m going to remember this forever!”
Watch the video below:
According to NOAA, the 250-plus-pound swordfish was deceased within a few hours of being consumed by the sharks. This analysis was based on how quickly the sharks were devouring it. Though the cause of death is unclear, it is possible the swordfish died from old age, disease, or injury.
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No hook or fishing line was visible; this indicates that its death wasn’t the byproduct of the fishing industry. Of course, if a hook was present, one or several of the sharks may have devoured it. If anything, the video is a unique learning opportunity to understand how “food falls” work in the deep sea.
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