PIC: Shark suffocates after choking on porcupine fish

2017-12-02 15:00 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - There was no way anybody was going to win when these two entangled. A pic shared to social media by LiveScience shows the grim scene of a lemon shark that tried to swallow a spiny porcupine fish - only to suffocate after it prickly supper became ensnared in its mouth. 

The run-in took place earlier this year in the tropical waters of the Maldives.

The report states as a result of the puffer fish blockage the shark's gills were obstructed, and as a result the fish also did not survive the incident - with the aftermath being observed and photographed by independent marine biologist Lauren Arthur after it washed up on the beach.  

SEE: Maldives: Budget-friendly escapes for South Africans

"Young lemon sharks are frequent visitors to the shallow lagoon in Baa Atoll, and the waters are likewise home to a large population of porcupine fish, which are also called balloonfish or spiny puffers for their body-inflating abilities. But this particular scene — a dead shark with an inflated, barbed fish partly protruding from the predator's gaping jaws — was something that Arthur had never come across before," says LiveScience.

According to an email send by Arthur, gardeners at the Amilla Fushi resort in the Maldives' Baa Atoll contacted her to say they saw what looked like a shark thrashing around close to the shore - but by the time Arthur arrived, the shark had already died.  

Take a look:   

SEE: PICS: Another endangered great white found dead off SA coast (Warning: Graphic)

Locally we've also had an unusual dead shark incident wash up on a beach in Kleinbaai. According to Marine Dynamics, a shark cage diving company based in Gansbaai in Western Cape, the great white shark was found dead on Saturday, 25 November.

"The shark was reported to the South African Shark Conservancy by Ichthyologist, Sarah Halse, from the Breede area," says Marine Dynamics, adding that on Sunday, 26 November, Dyer Island Conservation Trust’s (DICT) white shark biologist, Alison Towner, "retrieved the shark and brought it back to DICT’s Kleinbaai facility". An autopsy will take place on Monday, 27 November.

According to Towner the shark was not attacked by an orca because there are no obvious signs of orca bites and the shark still has its liver intact. In all previous cases of orca attacks, the sharks' livers were removed with "almost surgical precision", while the rest of the animal remained intact.

"The shark does have a fresh hook with steel trace lodged in her jaw and a gaff mark on the upper caudal lobe," says Towner.

Towner adds that they suspect this is similar to a recent Mossel Bay white shark mortality, and that this shark "likely fought with an angler resulting in her death." Great white sharks cannot swim backwards in the water.

What to read next on Traveller24:

ALERT: Seasonal shoals increase shark risk along Cape Town shores

Orca killing spree: SA's iconic shark cage diving under threat

South Africa's great white shark mystery: The full story