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The Most Festive Shark There Ever Was?
The 2017 holiday season is upon us, and no matter where we go, it seems we can’t escape the joyful music, vibrant light displays and perfectly wrapped gift displays alongside shop window setups. Every other commercial on television is about a special sale for this time of year, and Facebook is flooding with fun-filled holiday recipes to try. What you may not have known, though, is that December is chock-full of a spectacular list of other ‘holidays’ as well, countless of which perfectly match the typically festive vibes of the month. For example, December 15th boasts National Cupcake Day, while the 26th day of the month serves as National Thank You Note Day.
Here at Ocean Conservancy, we’re taking this holiday as an opportunity to celebrate one of the least-known but most seasonally apropos creatures of the deep. How, you may ask? Well, while we all love our occasional snickerdoodle or sugar cookie, there’s a specific species of shark that we couldn’t help but think of as ‘National Cookie Day’ rolled around: the cookiecutter shark.
Wait…what’s a cookiecutter shark? Is that even a real thing?
Great question. The answer’s simple, though, and it’s yes!
All right, let’s start from the beginning. These sharks (their scientific name is Isistius brasiliensis) are rarely seen by people, because they live in the open ocean at depths of up to more 3,000 feet below the surface during the day. What we do see significantly more often, however, are the scars and marks they leave on their prey as a result of a feeding mechanism that has earned them their namesake. While some fear great whites for their sheer size and girth, these tiny predators don’t grow to be more than 22 inches long. What’s alarming here is not their size or ferocious appearance, but their unique method of attack.