The Week in Sharks: I Like Big Caudal Fins and I Cannot Lie
by A Real Person on May 21, 2010
It’s a reasonable bet that at some point, in some language, on any given day, someone utters something along the lines of “that’s a big-ass shark.” Only in the case of the threshers—a common genus found in temperate waters across the globe—this is a perfectly accurate observation; the upper caudal (tail, to the restless masses) fin can grow almost the length of the rest of the animal.
A team of American marine biologists, in filming common threshers (Alopias vulpinus; the latinate translates as “foxy fox,” and before you ask, yeah, I’d hit it), may have discovered why. The shark employs a hunting technique that can best be described, to paraphrase a prominent ’90s marine biology think tank, as “smack[ing] my fish up.”
In the videos posted on the BBC story linked above (which, like all BBC videos, are unembedable, an outrage that will likely remain unaddressed. After all the RN sank several Argentinian vessels in response to widespread downloading of Eastenders throughout greater Buenos Aires), threshers can be seen sneaking up alongside prey and, rather than biting down, swatting and stunning them with their tails.
The downside to this fish-fu is that the threshers are prone to getting trapped by their tails on long-lines (free-floating lines of multiple baited hooks that can be laid out and ignored, because people are all about the sport of the hunt). Apparently they swim up to stationary bait and hit it with their tails, thus getting caught. Unable to swim forward, their breathing is hindered, and they often die even after release. All because they hit a piece of rotting meat with their tail. Yes, sharks are majestic creatures that, like humans, are often kind of stupid and very sad.
[via BBC Earth News]
In other exciting dead shark news, a young female great white rescued from a net and nursed back to health by the Monterey Bay Aquarium was unceromoniously waylayed, filleted, and sauteed in Ensenada, Mexico. After displaying her for over two months, the aquarium had tagged and released her, but affiliated scientists in Mexico tracked the tag signals to… a house. Those having landshark fantasies—yeah but no. A curious fisherman had apparently bagged and sold the shark, then taken the tag home with him.
The Aquarium’s Curator of Field Operations John O’Sullivan notes, “Many of our released sharks have gone south to Mexico,” meaning this young female had something in common with a great many other young females in California. At least the shark didn’t come back with a hangover, an STD, and a tattoo reading “¡Muy caliente!”
Even more senselessly, a dead dogfish washed up on a boat dock on the Ohio River, near Olmsted, Illinois. A dead, mutilated dogfish. Methinks Rod Blagojevich is running out of worthwhile messages to send people.
And then there’s the Twee in Sharks (rejected slug: “Putting the ‘Et’ in ‘Etsy’”). Ever want to stuff your loved ones into the maw of a carnivorous fish? Now you can!
When your hipster honey next slips into something more cartilaginous, take a moment to savor how being mauled to death now qualifies as irony. Yeesh. I sometimes have fantasies about filming a PSA wherein I’m a grossly disfigured amputee. Stumpy Fredericks hobbles into the frame and earnestly tells you viewers at home “The food chain is no joke,” and then you’re returned to the very special episode of Glee where Kurt goes candyflipping in Wicker Park.
Of course, at other times I have fantasies about girls and/or sandwiches, which maybe I like better.
[via Patch Together]
(wanna float Shark Nerdist a hot shark tip? Holla at your buoy)
image via PacificKlaus