It’s a shark-eat-shark world out there -- even in the Delaware Valley.
That’s how it seems after a photo of a shark swallowing down another shark which was already swallowing down a fish made the rounds this week.
The photo was snapped about a month ago by area researchers tracking sharks in the Delaware Bay off the Delaware Coast.
Researchers with the University of Delaware’s Ocean Exploration – Remote Sensing – Biogeography Group (ORB LAB) in Lewes, Del. posted the photo to Facebook last month and in recent days it’s made the rounds on various social media as well as NBCNews.com and LiveScience.com where they called it a “bizarre 'turducken of the sea' photo.”
ORB Lab’s post explains how the intense moment of a 3-foot-long shark meeting its demise inside another larger shark came to be.
“We caught one large female on our first line… but we were not expecting to catch her like this! This unlucky smooth dogfish couldn't resist the menhaden (a common marine fish) used as bait and unfortunately fell victim to one of the top predators in the bay. The dogfish was about 3 feet long and completely swallowed by the sand tiger shark.”
UDel assistant professor of oceanography Matthew Oliver told NBC10 that researchers captured the image while tracking sharks in the Delaware Bay. Oliver said he doesn’t have an exact estimate for the length of the larger sand tiger (or ragged-tooth) shark but he estimates its more than 2 meters long.
Oliver and the rest of the team from UDel have tagged and released hundreds of sharks over the past several years and this isn’t the first time they’ve heard of something like this.
“Yes, this sort of thing happens from time to time,” Oliver said. “Sharks eat all sorts of things, even different species of sharks.”
Oliver said that they have not been tracking the specific shark-hungry shark but they have been tracking smiliar ragged-tooth sharks over the years.
Researchers from the Lewes, Del.-based lab told NBC10 news partner Newsworks.org that over the past 30 years the sand tiger shark population has dipped up to 75 percent in Delaware Bay. By tagging the large fish, ORB Lab researchers are hoping to determine if the population continues to decline or not.