So, on another note of why the open ocean is dangerous, let’s talk about Cookiecutter Sharks. You may be saying to yourself “What in the world are you talking about!? Cookiecutter Sharks? Sharks that make cookies! AWESOME!” And we would agree except for what the sharks use a cookie dough…because that would be flesh.
The first time we ever heard of these vicious little suckers was when we were snorkeling with dolphins in Niue. Now, I don’t have any footage to show you of our snorkel trip, but it was awesome! We were in a couple of inflatable dinghies on our way to a dive, when a pod of Spinner dolphins started swimming off our bow. (Called “spinners” because of the amount of spins they perform on their jumps.) No matter how many times you’ve seen dolphins while underway, it’s still an amazing experience and what made this even better is that we were able to get in the water and be towed by the boat so we could swim with them. It was fantastic!
While we were in the water, I noticed a few of the dolphins had circular wounds on them in various places.
The first thing that came to my mind was that they had some sort of flesh eating disease (which worried me since I didn’t want to catch it!) When I asked our dive guide about it, she said that they’d been bitten by Cookiecutter Sharks. I thought that she was just having me on, but I made appropriate noises, and we continued on our dive trip. Next time I got online though, I looked them up. Lo and behold, they’re real! And they’re freaky!
They’re actually pretty small, and they look mostly harmless. That is, until you peel back their mouth and can see the teeth!
Their lower jaw is full of teeth that are packed together virtually forming one large serrated knife. The way they use this weapon is to sit quietly in the water column in the evening waiting for the big fish and mammals to go hunting. They have a light colored body with a dark band around the neck that appears to the hunters to be a small tasty fish. The hunting fish swims toward the shark, and then WHAM! The next thing it knows is that the cookie cutter shark has made a surprise attack by slamming it’s teeth into the side of the fish, sharply twisting it’s body while biting down, and has scooped a large chunk of flesh out like an ice cream scoop! That’s just crazy! BBC made a video describing this attack. You should check it out, it’s nuts!
Fortunately, humans don’t see these things often. There are very few documented sightings, and even fewer attacks have been reported. Although, apparently these things plagued the Navy for a while in the ‘70s and ‘80s by attacking unprotected neoprene and rubber items on their submarines and submarine cables. They thought some sort of new weapon had been created. Nope, just Cookiecutter sharks. Once they coated everything in fiberglass, the problem disappeared