NOAA researchers have shot rare video of a large wreckfish as it devours a shark whole. The unexpected events occurred during dramatic footage depicting a group of sharks during a feeding frenzy on the ocean floor. The NOAA shot the shark attack via a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) camera while attempting to explore a shipwreck off the Southeastern US coast.
But instead of a shipwreck, they stumbled across a group of sharks “in what looked to be a feeding frenzy”, devouring the flesh of a 2.5m-long swordfish.
The underwater explorers then noticed a giant wreckfish serenely swimming past with a entire shark in its mouth.
Wreckfish are giant deep-water fish and can be found on the ocean bottom, where they inhabit caves and shipwrecks, earning them their common name.
The carnivore was believed to be eating a dogfish, a relatively small member of the shark family.
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NOAA wrote in a statement: “Using the ROV for cover, the wreckfish demonstrated the ability of large predatory fishes to feed on smaller sharks.
“The wreckfish appears unable to feed on the swordfish directly itself, but by joining the sharks, it was able to feed on an animal that was. “
NOAA believe the school of sharks, which are not normally found in groups, must have been drawn to the swordfish carcass “from a distance”.
They added: “Normally we don’t see any deep-sea sharks in a group or aggregation, unless there is some nearby patch of food.
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“As relatively small apex predators, they spend a great deal of time searching for prey.
“When a large food fall occurs, like a 250-plus pound swordfish, the ability to detect and locate the food, and then maximise food intake, is the key to growth and survival.”
The unanticipated discovery caught on camera may add to our understanding about how sharks and other species detect large food falls.
It could well involve chemical trails, the vibrations of prey struggling, or the sound of one or more predators who initially found the prey and started feeding.
The NOAA blog posted added: “How far of a distance can these animals detect such opportunities?
“How often do such events happen? This rare and startling event leaves us with more questions than answers, but such is the nature of scientific exploration.”