In the classic Steven Spielberg shark movie, “Jaws”, everyone remembers the scene when fishermen string up their giant catch in the wake of a little boy’s tragic death from a brutal shark attack. But is it the great white killer shark police chief Brody (Roy Scheider) and oceanographer Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) have been looking for?
Fearing a public and media catastrophe, the mayor refuses a shark autopsy saying, “I’m not going to stand here and see that thing cut open and have that little Kitner boy spill out all over the dock!” So Brody and Hooper decide to get to the shark in the night to open it up and see what’s inside.
The ensuing scene is both amusing and fascinating as Hooper slices open the giant fish, and proceeds to grimace his way through yanking out whole fish, a license plate, and beer cans. Of course, no little boy is found in the belly of what turns out to be a Tiger Shark, and the notorious hunt for the great white is on.
Jaws was released back in 1975, long before the days of Discovery Channel’s constant TV replays of “Shark Week”; so for most, this scene was a first educational glimpse at the crazy, real things sharks have been known to swallow.
It’s not just sharks that have been found to have odd things in their bellies. Whales that have washed up dead on shore or were caught by fishermen have been discovered to have some really bizarre things swimming in their tummies, too.
Sadly, as the world’s oceans become increasingly polluted, it’s becoming more and more commonplace for sea creatures to swallow pieces of plastic and other trash that they have mistaken for their sources of food. This is a concerning environmental issue that needs to be addressed, and many organizations are working together to combat the problem in the name of animal protection and preservation.
However, this article explores truly bizarre swallowed items that go beyond the typical and expected fare of plastic bags and tin cans. Just as Brody says to fishing captain Quint after his first glimpse of the giant shark in the water, “You’re gonna’ need a bigger boat” – some of these fish clearly could have used a bigger stomach.
These are the ten weirdest things ever reported to have been found inside of sea creatures.
10. Chicken Coop with Chickens Inside
Thinking he’d stumbled upon a large bucket of KFC, one tiger shark clearly bit off more than he could chew when he happened upon a whole, wooden chicken coop, with chickens still sitting inside.
The tiger shark is nicknamed the “garbage can of the sea” because, sadly, this is one shark that really will eat just about anything it finds in its path, from rubber tires to beer bottles. These swallowed items, especially the larger ones (like this chicken coop!), are usually chomped down to the poor tiger shark’s detriment, as they are naturally indigestible.
Where this chicken coop came from is anyone’s guess, but imagine the shock of the fishermen slicing open their giant catch, only to make this bizarre, feathered discovery.
Of course, this immediately prompted a menu change to surf and turf.
9. Polar Bear
When scientists were dissecting a Greenland Shark in an effort to study the creature, they were stunned to discover bits and pieces of a polar bear in the animal’s gut. They had never seen or heard of a shark eating a bear before.
Scientists then debated the question: Did the Greenland shark nab a live swimming polar bear, or did he stumble upon the young bear’s carcass and swallow it?
Greenland-shark researcher Jeffrey Gallant said, “There’s no possibility a Greenland shark could predate a live adult white bear unless it was injured or seriously ill.” But with this bear being young, scientists were left scratching their heads at the possibilities.
A clear absence of studies on the hunting habits of Greenland sharks seems to be a problem for making an accurate conclusion on this question. The general agreement, however, seemed to be that the polar bear was most likely a scavenge.
If it was an attack, there must have been a monumental fight between the animals; the scientists pointed out that even a young polar bear, a notoriously aggressive and vicious animal, would likely put up a ferocious fight against a Greenland shark.
With this species of shark growing up to 23 feet in length, and weighing in at more than a tonne, that would have to be one real-life David and Goliath fight!
Perhaps less surprisingly, polar bear remains have also been found inside of killer whales, which would be more likely to prey upon the animals if confronted in the water.
The giant Greenland shark has been found with bits and pieces of large caribou in his gut on more than one occasion.
There is reportedly a myth that these sharks can leap out of the water and grab a caribou as it stands on the ice. Steve Campana, head of the Canadian shark research laboratory, says no way. He believes the caribou, like the polar bear, is almost certainly a scavenge; at best, it could be the result of the caribou being preyed upon while it swam.
As reiterated by Kit Kovacs of the Norwegian Polar Institute,”We don’t know how active these sharks are as predators.”
Hmmm…. Giant polar bears, caribou. Move over Great White, maybe it’s time for the Greenland Shark to steal your thunder.
7. Horse’s Head
The guys who opened up this tiger shark must have been sweating bullets trying to figure out which mafia boss they rubbed the wrong way.
Fishermen reeled in a huge tiger shark, almost 11 feet long, only to discover that it had at some point swallowed a whole horse’s head. How or why the horse was in the water is the stuff of mysteries.
But how the horse’s head came to be detached from its body is an even greater mystery, with the head in such a condition that it couldn’t have suffered from a tiger shark attack. Of course, this also means it was basically swallowed whole by the greedy bugger.
The most likely explanation is that the horse head ended up in the water, along with other animal remains, from a slaughterhouse somewhere. Other bits and pieces of livestock have reportedly ended up in the water this way, and in the tummies of other sharks.
6. The Tattooed Arm of a Murdered Man
Who knew sharks were such crime fighters? The tiger shark in this 1935 case couldn’t have known he’d help to launch a murder investigation when he swallowed a man’s tattooed arm.
Fascinatingly, this tiger shark was caught in the ocean as it tried to eat another shark already hooked by a fisherman, in yet another case of sharks eating sharks. The shark was transported to Australia’s Coogee Aquarium, clearly not long after swallowing the arm.
Of course, no one knew about the secret contents of the shark’s’ stomach until the agitated fish regurgitated the arm – right in front of a crowd of spectators assembled at the aquarium to view the new star attraction!
Luckily the tiger shark has a very slow digestive system, leaving the limb in a condition that allowed for a proper investigation. Upon close inspection, knife incisions seen on the arm, as well as a rope still tied to the wrist, made it clear that the shark was not the murderer of this man.
Police managed to identify the victim, thanks to the tattoos, as former boxer and small time criminal Jim Smith. Fingerprints were even lifted from the arm, and a murder investigation was opened. The notorious case known as the “Shark Arm Murder” led police down a complex trail of murder, fraud and blackmail, implicating many, but it was never completely solved.
5. A Bag of Money
First a horse’s head, then a murdered man’s arm, and now a bag of money – all found inside sharks. This could be the middle of a James Bond movie, or a bizarre premise for a new Godfather flick.
This bag of money was yet another item reported to have been found inside of a tiger shark. Just how much money was contained in the bag, and where it came from, is unclear – but the concept lends itself to wonderful possibilities. The big question here is, who got to keep it?
Other interesting items of value found within tiger sharks bellies have included a leather wallet, a fur coat, a diamond ring, a driver’s license, a pair of vintage wine bottles, a medieval Portuguese medallion, and a pair of sneakers with legs still attached to them (well, they were really expensive sneakers!).
Perhaps they should switch the nickname of the tiger shark from “garbage can of the sea” to “kleptomaniac of the sea.”
4. A Full Suit of Armour
French naturalist Guillaume Rondelet was one of the earliest scientists on record trying to study and understand sharks, and is credited with writing the first complete “book of fishes” back in 1554.
Having discovered what must have been the monstrous great white, Rondelet describes a giant shark capable of swallowing whole men. One victim discovered in the belly of the shark was described as an “entire man,” wearing a full suit of armour.
Shark attacks on humans have happened for centuries, ever since man first set foot in the oceans. Greek historian Herodotus is thought to be the first to have reported gory shark attacks all the way back in 45o B.C. He described a Greek battle in which crews of sinking Persian ships were eaten by sharks.
3. Another shark
It’s a dog eat dog world out there, and in the ocean, it’s sharks eating sharks.
On this particular occasion, a three foot dogfish placed on a line by researchers just couldn’t seem to catch a break. First, he gets snagged on the hook by the annoying humans; then, a brother jumps up and nabs him in the form of a giant sand tiger shark.
Of course, the phenomenon of sharks eating other sharks is very common within the ocean, with recent reports even showing some sharks possibly cannibalising their own species.
Last year, the world news reported that a giant great white shark supposedly ate one of its own. The theory was based on the discovery of a tracking device researchers had placed on a 9-foot great white that ended up washing up mysteriously on an Australian beach.
The device revealed that it went through a 30-degree spike in temperature before plunging down nearly 2,000 feet in the ocean. This indicated to researchers the possibility of the shark having been preyed upon and entering another much larger animal’s hot digestive tract before being dragged down into the ocean’s depths.
Theories abounded; could it have been a giant squid? Was it proof of the existence of long lost megalodon, a prehistoric shark that once measured up to 60-feet in length but thought to be extinct? Other scientists pointed to the possibility of a killer whale attack.
But in the end, scientists seemed to conclude that the most likely killer was in fact another, much larger great white shark. Scientists were further drawn to the cannibal theory, as many great whites had been swimming in the area where the tracking device was recorded to have been originally taken.
2. Crocodile Head and Forequarters
A crocodile head and its forequarters were indeed reported to have been found inside of a tiger shark. But really, that battle could have gone either way. There have been many reports on record of crocodiles attacking and consuming sharks.
Just last year, a giant Australian crocodile named Brutus made global headlines for nabbing a bull shark for his lunch to the delight of tourists. The croc has been one of Australia’s star attractions along a nature reserve tour of the Adelaide River in the Northern Territory for years.
Known for his huge size and for missing his front right foreleg, 80-year-old Brutus is thought to have lost the limb to a shark years before.
Looks like the grumpy old croc finally got his revenge in this bit of poetic justice!
1. A Golf Ball
Everyone remembers the classic Seinfeld episode that has Kramer hitting a golfball over the ocean, which lands straight into the blowhole of a whale. The comedic drama that unfolds, involving compulsive liar George needing to use non-existent “marine biologist” skills to rescue the poor whale that has beached itself all because of Kramer’s misstep, is preposterous and hilarious all at once.
Of course, George unexpectedly rises to the occasion and rescues the whale. Chatting with his pals at their local deli, his “great reveal” that a golf ball caused all the whale’s problems brilliantly wraps up the famous episode (shown above).
So researchers must have found it rather amusing when they discovered a golfball inside the gut of a gray whale that had washed up on shore off Washington State’s Puget Sound.
Gray whales can often swallow unsavoury debris because of the way that they feed, which involves scooping up sediment from the ocean floor. Sadly, this can include all manner of garbage. Gray whales have even had pairs of sweat pants found inside them.
According to researchers, however, the gray whale in this case had minimal amounts of garbage in its system, and the death would have been caused by something else. They confirmed that the tiny ball found in its stomach most certainly had nothing to do with the giant creature’s unfortunate demise.
Kramer would be wiping his brow with relief on this one!
animals.howstuffworks.com, telegraph.co.uk, elasmo-research.org,
heraldsun.com.au, discoveryuk.com, dailymail.co.uk, news.yahoo.com
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