An Australian fishing boat hauled in something last week straight from a horror movie: a swordfish with a bunch of round, shallow holes cut from its body.
In a video posted to Instagram, we can see that the fish looks to have been the target of a drive-by or experience a cupping treatment gone horribly wrong. But the odd wounds are actually the work of a creepy-looking fish known as the cookiecutter, or cigar, shark.
The foot-and-a-half-long shark lives in warm ocean waters and feeds by latching onto prey with its suction-like lips. The shark digs into the victim with its razor-sharp teeth and then spins in a barrel roll to scoop out a circular glob of flesh.
The ferocious little fish has been known to take bites out of everything from swordfish to great whites to human bodies. Their bites have even been known to disable nuclear submarines. To add to the creepiness, cookie cutter sharks, like all shark species, lose their teeth several times throughout their lifetime. However, unlike other sharks, cookie cutter sharks also swallow their own teeth to recycle the calcium and help them make more teeth.
This particularly unfortunate swordfish was hauled out of the water by Captain TK Walker, a 35-year commercial fishing veteran and owner of TK Offshore Fishing.
Walker explained in a Youtube video of the catch, "A cookie cutter shark is just a small shark with obviously a very fearsome set of triangle-shaped teeth. What they do is they just come racing along and race up, grab a hunk of meat, and race off again. Grab a hunk, twist, and take off."
The bites are not fatal, and because of that the cookie cutter shark is technically considered a parasite rather than a predator. Still, its bites are savage and the sheer number of wounds on the swordfish led Walker to believe that it may have been a pack attack. He later told Newsweek that he'd never seen an attack like that in 40 years of fishing. "They made more than a snack of him, that's for sure."
One commenter asked Walker how he sells a fish that has been mauled so aggressively, and Walker explained, "We recover everything we can. The swordfish with bites are still sold to the market. Even a tuna that has been bitten in half will still have loins we can recover. The biggest thing is not wasting anything we have harvested."