Marine vandal has a gutful!

By: Mark McGrouther, Category: Science, Date: 06 Apr 2013

Emails from a research vessel in the middle of the Pacific tell of a small shark whose 'taste' for fresh sashimi led to its capture.

Smalltooth Cookiecutter Shark teeth

Smalltooth Cookiecutter Shark teeth
Photographer: Michael Miller © Michael Miller

Leptocephalus expert Mike Miller captured one of the world's weirdest creatures during a recent research 'cruise'.

The Smalltooth Cookiecutter Shark (view factsheet) gets its name from the unusual way it feeds. Its impressive teeth are used to carve out a 'cookie' of muscle from its prey, which includes larger fishes and mammals (including humans). Despite its taste for large prey, the species only grows to about 50 cm in length.

Feeding scars are commonly seen on the bodies of victims. Mike however, took the story to a new level by dissecting a freshly-caught specimen and photographing its last meal. He reported that there were many tunas in the area where the shark was caught and by the looks of the 'cookie', tuna was probably on the menu.

Some years back we showed that one cookiecutter had a 'taste for' the sonar dome of a submarine. Thanks to Mike, we can now add midwater trawl nets to the list of non-biological items damaged by the species.  Mike stated that "The little shark ripped two holes in the upper net. I guess he could not figure out how to escape and was caught."

Oh ... and one more thing.  If you think the Smalltooth Cookiecutter Shark has big teeth, have a look at its relative, the aptly named Largetooth Cookiecutter Shark.


  1. Honebrink, R., Buch, R., Galpin, P., & G. Burgess. 2011. First Documented Attack on a Live Human by a Cookiecutter Shark (Squaliformes, Dalatiidae: Isistius sp.). Pacific Science. 65(3): 365-374.


Tags Smalltooth Cookiecutter Shark, Isistius brasiliensis, Dalatiidae, fishes, ichthyology, IKMT, trawl, net, bitten, cookie,