The cookiecutter shark (Isistius brasiliensis) or cigar shark is known to be one of the most petrifying sharks in the world. They are mainly popular for leaving a cookie-shaped wound on the bodies of their prey, thus justifying its name. The most unique quality of this animal is how it efficiently feeds on larger animals like whales, seals, dolphins, and even big sharks despite being small in size. They stick their bodies to their prey and with the help of their sharp lower teeth, they efficiently chop out a perfect round flesh. However, they do not always kill them and thus can also also be seen as a parasite. This shark also swallows small animals like shrimps and crustaceans. They have been known to attack inanimate objects as well. The sonar domes of nuclear submarines have been reported to have imprints left by this shark.
This shark is dark brown or greyish brown in color and has a prominent dark collar around the gills.
During the day, they prefer living deep in the waters of the warm tropical ocean but, at night they travel to the surface to hunt. They are usually spotted near the islands but they also live in the open sea. Keep reading to find more interesting facts about this species of shark.
Cookiecutter shark (Isistius brasiliensis) is a type of small cartilaginous fish of the genus Isistius.
What class of animal does a cookiecutter shark belong to?
Cookiecutter sharks belong to the class of Chondrichthyes and order Squaliformes.
How many cookiecutter sharks are there in the world?
Cookiecutter sharks are small, deep-water sharks and therefore hard to keep track of. Hence, the population of cookiecutter sharks in the world is not estimated.
Where does a cookiecutter shark live?
Cookiecutter sharks (Isistius brasiliensis) are deep-water sharks that reside in parts of the Atlantic ocean. They are found in parts of the western Atlantic ocean as well as parts of the eastern Atlantic ocean. Apart from this, these sharks thrive in some areas of the Indo-pacific ocean, from Mauritius through New Guinea, and New Zealand, and eastern parts of the Hawaiian Islands. They are sometimes found in Galapagos in the eastern Pacific ocean as well as in the waters of Western Australia and Tasmania.
What is a cookiecutter shark's habitat?
This species is mostly found at least 2.3 miles (3.7 km) deep in the waters of the warm tropical ocean but at night they travel to the surface to find prey. Usually, they are spotted near islands but are not particularly restricted to that area.
Who do cookiecutter sharks live with?
Cookiecutter sharks are a solitary species. They are known to meet only when the breeding season arrives.
How long does a cookiecutter shark live?
The lifespan of a cookie-cutter shark could not be evaluated as these species are quite difficult to track.
How do they reproduce?
Cookiecutter sharks give birth in a fascinating manner. These shark species are ovoviviparous in nature. This means the process of internal fertilization takes place, following which they give birth to pups. The males fertilize the females by inserting one of their two claspers into her cloaca, resulting in successful fertilization. Afterward, the females preserve the eggs in their egg chambers that fully develop with the help of the nutrients received from the yolk case. Then these eggs hatch and the young ones stay inside the female's uterus for a while. The entire gestation period continues from 12-22 months after which the females give birth to 6-12 fully developed pups. These pups measure 5.5 in (14 cm) in size. They are independent since their birth and can find their own prey.
What is their conservation status?
Cookiecutter sharks are not extinct as they are of Least Concern according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Cookiecutter Shark Fun Facts
What do cookiecutter sharks look like?
Cookiecutter shark is also known as a cigar shark because of its small, cylindrical, and cigar-shaped body. The most fascinating feature of this shark is the suctorial lips which help them to stick to its prey. It has 30-37 short and upright upper teeth and 25-31 sharp lower teeth that are triangular in shape. These teeth help this predator to chop off chunks of flesh off their prey quite efficiently. They are dark brown, grey, or greyish brown in color with a prominent dark collar around the gills and a short snout. In contrast to their size, these sharks have big green eyes. Furthermore, they do not have anal fins but have spineless dorsal fins towards the back and large caudal fins. The pelvic fins are larger in size, compared to the dorsal fins.
How cute are they?
These sharks are not cute. They might have a small-sized body but are quite terrifying because of their fierce hunting style.
How do they communicate?
Not much information has been found about the communication of cookie-cutter sharks. Although it is assumed that like any other species of shark, these sharks utilize body language and vibrations to communicate with each other.
How big is a cookiecutter shark?
A male cookie-cutter shark is 14-16 in (35-41 cm) and a female cookie-cutter shark is 16-20 in (41-51 cm) long. They are approximately six times bigger than Siamese fighting fish. Siamese fighting fish are about 2.7 in (7 cm) in length.
How fast can a cookiecutter shark move?
The speed of a cookie-cutter shark has not been estimated yet. However, it is known that they can swim quite fast and catch prey efficiently with the help of their large-sized caudal fins.
How much does a cookiecutter shark weigh?
The weight of a cookie-cutter shark has not been recorded yet.
What are their male and female names of the species?
There is no specific name for male and female cookie-cutter sharks. They are simply referred to as male and female cookie-cutter sharks, just like all other species of sharks.
What would you call a baby cookiecutter shark?
A baby cookie-cutter shark is called a pup.
What do they eat?
Cookiecutter sharks are carnivorous animals that prey on larger animals like tuna and billfishes as well as other marine mammals like whales, dolphins, and seals. In fact, there are only a few marine animals left who have not been bitten by these formidable creatures. These sharks have a unique way of hunting with the help of their saw-like structured teeth. Instead of killing their prey, they attach themselves to an animal with their suctorial lips and sharp upper teeth. After getting a grip, they twist and turn, chopping a plug of flesh from the animal's skin with the help of their large set of lower teeth. This results in a cookie-shaped wound on the prey's body. They also swallow a few marine species like shrimp and crustaceans since they are small in size. They live deep in the water during the day but come to the surface at night to hunt.
Are they poisonous?
No, these animals are not at all poisonous. Their bite will result in excruciating pain but will not cause fatal damage.
Would they make a good pet?
No, sharks are wild fishes and are not meant to be domesticated. They are carnivorous in nature and known to bite. Hence, they can cause severe damage to humans.
Did you know...
Isistius derives its name from Isis, the Egyptian goddess of light. Furthermore, the name Brasiliensis is derived from a location near the coast of Brazil where these sharks are commonly spotted.
Cookiecutter shark is also known as the luminous shark. This is because the lower portion of these sharks is covered in luminous organs which are known as photophores. They emit a gleaming green light, especially in the dark, and gives an impression of a small fish. This bright green light catches the attention of their prey. As they are lured towards the light, they eventually fall into the trap set by the sneaky cookie-cutter shark who thereby enjoys a delicious meal!
Are cookiecutter sharks dangerous?
Yes, cookie-cutter sharks can cause danger to humans but they do not necessarily result in fatal damage. These sharks usually reside in the deep sea but come up to the surface at night to prey. Although quite rare have there been incidents where humans have been attacked by this small yet terrifying shark.
How many teeth does a cookiecutter shark have?
These sharks have a strong upper jaw and a lower jaw where all teeth are intertwined at the root like a saw. There are 30-37 short, upright teeth in their upper jaw and 25-31 bigger teeth that are triangular in shape in their lower jaw.
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