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Stressed tiger shark spits out fully intact echidna


Researchers tagging marine animals off Australia’s Orpheus Island were shocked when a tiger shark they caught spat out an echidna, a larvae-eating monotreme recognizable by its spine-covered body. This tiger shark is known for eating just about anything and it looks like it has met its match.

“I’ve seen videos of them eating a rock for no reason,” Nicolas Lubitz, a former PhD student at James Cook University who led the tagging trip, said in a university press release. “In this case, I think the echidna just felt a little strange in its throat.”

Lubitz only managed to take one photo, which you can see above. The shark is clearly the gray mass on the left. The echidna is a little harder to see: it is the dark spot in the bottom center of the image. But below is a photo of an echidna for your convenience, to better understand what this shark was trying to digest. In short, it’s not the kind of animal you like to swallow whole. A scallop, for sure. An egg – if boiled first – maybe. But a creature with spines that can grow to almost two feet (61 centimeters) long? I hate stooping to a lazy pun, but that’s hard to swallow.

Echidnas are known to swim in shallow waters between islands, Lubitz said, and that’s likely how they were captured by the predatory shark. The echidna would have been a tasty morsel for an open-minded eater, growing up to 5.5 meters long and almost a ton. The shark the team caught was about 10 feet long. According to The ocean protectionTiger sharks eat “pretty much anything they can get their hands on” and have been found with license plates, tires and other sharks in their stomachs. If only those other sharks had been shaped like an echidna… they might have had a chance.

The echidna regurgitated by the shark was dead. Although no cause of death was stated at the release, it was noted that the echidna was completely intact, indicating that the shark swallowed it whole. Surprisingly, the shark itself was not injured by the unpleasant food and swam away after the team fitted it with an acoustic tracker.

Another tiger shark tagged by the team spit out half a shark dugong. Hats off to these sharks; they are not afraid to try new foods. But if they wanted to be more polite, they wouldn’t spit out the things they don’t like, especially not in front of company.

More: A single orca killed and ate a great white shark, video reveals

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