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The shark vomits the entire echidna;  A stunning first look

The shark vomits the entire echidna; A stunning first look

(CNN) — A tiger shark has been spotted vomiting up a dead echidna off the coast of an Australian island in what is believed to be the first encounter scientists have ever seen.

Echidnas, dome-shaped mammals covered in spines, are common in Australia.

Researchers from James Cook University in northern Queensland noticed the rare phenomenon while identifying marine life on the region’s Orpheus Island in May 2022, according to a Thursday news release from the university.

“We were shocked by what we saw. We didn’t know what was really going on,” marine biologist Nicholas Lubitz, a former doctoral student at the university and a researcher at the Biopixel Oceans Foundation, said in the statement.

“When he spat it out, I looked at him and said, ‘What the hell is that?'” “Someone asked to take a photo, so I ran to get my phone,” he continued: “I only managed to take one photo, but you can see the outline of the echidna in the water.”

According to Lubitz, the echidna was dead and “completely intact” with “all its vertebrae and legs” when it was resurfaced by the three-meter-long shark.

He said it is “rare” for tiger sharks to vomit their food, although they may do so when stressed. “In this case, I think the echidna must have felt a little funny in its throat.”

The shark was not injured by the encounter and the team returned it to the water after attaching an acoustic tracker, according to the release.

A strange shark, caught and tagged by the team, made a “surprising” recovery when it tossed half a dugong, according to the release. A dugong is a herbivorous marine animal commonly found in Australia.

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“It threw off a big chunk of fat and then the whole backbone,” said Lubitz, who believes they belong to a baby dugong.

Tiger sharks are very hungry, have a scavenging habit, and have been known to devour humans. They consume other sharks, fish, sea turtles, and seabirds, as well as debris such as charcoal, cans, clothing, and bones.

They have been documented devouring license plates, small television screens and even tires. “I’ve seen videos of them eating a rock for no reason,” Lupitz added.

Tiger sharks are found in warm oceans around the world. In May 2023, a kayaker fishing in shallow water off the coast of Windward Oahu, Hawaii, captured the terrifying moment the animal crashed into his boat.