A uncommon, multispecies brawl unfolded not too long ago within the deep ocean off the coast of Hawaii. In a single nook, an oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) — a 7-foot-long (2.1 meters) predator able to diving as much as 1,000 ft (300 m) beneath the floor in pursuit of prey. Within the different nook… it is not clear. However no matter it was, it was large, it had tentacles and it put up a hell of a battle.
Undersea photographer Deron Verbeck caught the aftermath of this mysterious scrap when he snapped an image of the offending shark, scarred all alongside its flank with unusual round patterns and dots. In keeping with a research printed June three within the Journal of Fish Biology, there are solely a handful of creatures in Hawaiian waters able to creating scars like that, and they’re all monumental cephalopods.
Whereas it is unattainable to make sure what precisely scarred the shark, the researchers argue that it may have been a “phantom of the deep” — one other title for the elusive giant squid (Architeuthis dux).
Big squids are mysterious denizens of the deep ocean, thought to have the ability to develop anyplace from 33 to 43 ft (10 to 13 m) in size. They’re poorly studied as a result of they stay so deep underwater — sometimes about 1,000 ft (300 m) down or extra, the researchers wrote. Their deep dwellings put the large squids not solely out of attain of most people, but additionally many would-be predators.
The oceanic whitetip shark could also be an exception, the researchers wrote. As a result of the sharks are recognized to dive to excessive depths on foraging missions, it is possible that an unfortunate whitetip may discover itself snoot-to-sucker with an enormous squid.
That could be what occurred to the scarred shark within the photograph. In keeping with the researchers, the sequence of round marks alongside the shark’s again and aspect are formed precisely just like the suckers on a big squid’s tentacles. From the dimensions of the markings, the offending squid should have been no less than the identical dimension because the shark (no less than 7 ft, or 2 meters, lengthy) and was probably even bigger, the researchers wrote.
Solely three forms of squids recognized to inhabit Hawaiian waters may have created the marks, the staff concluded: a squid within the genus Thysanoteuthis or Megalocranchia (each recognized to develop as much as almost 7 ft) or the large squid.
Many different particulars of the encounter stay a thriller. For instance, who threw the primary punch? (Or chew? Or slap?) In keeping with the researchers, that is the primary time such massive tentacle markings have been noticed on a shark, so it is exhausting to say whether or not the shark was performing in offense or protection. Nevertheless, “the lack of any obvious wounding suggests they were more likely defensive (i.e. the shark attacked the cephalopod),” the researchers wrote within the research. “Comparable scarring patterns are seen on sperm whales, well-known predators of enormous cephalopods.”
When pressed for particulars on the encounter, the shark responded merely: “You should see the other guy.”
Initially printed on Live Science.