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The shark vomited the echidna. “A case like one in a million”

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A tiger shark returning an echidna – such a sight surprised scientists conducting research off the coast of the Australian state of Queensland.

Scientists from James Cook University completed a project to mark marine animals with satellite tags in 2023. As part of the program, researchers managed to place 800 trackers that will track the movements of rays, sharks and pearl perch for the next 10 years. The first results of the observations will be published this year, but one of the scientists, Nicolas Lubitz, shared in advance an unusual story that occurred during the research.

A one in a million case

According to Lubitz, the incident occurred while marking animals near Orpheus Island in May 2022. One of the tiger sharks selected for study (Galeocerdo cuvier) was very stressed. At one point the animal vomited a dead Australian echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) – land mammal.

“I think it's a one in a million case,” he said. – He simply returned the spike strip, which was a big surprise for us.

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Australian echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) – photo. illustrativeKristian Bell/Shutterstock

The scientist explained that vomiting is one of the stress reactions observed in tiger sharks. This is especially common when the shark swallows the food in a hurry or has problems digesting it – due to its back covered with sharp spines, the echidna is not the easiest prey. However, the presence of a small mammal in the water is not unusual.

– They use their noses like snorkels. They're actually quite good swimmers, Lubitz explained.

As the scientist added, carrion-eating tiger sharks sometimes swallow unusual objects. Fragments of tires, license plates and even TV screens have been found in the stomachs of representatives of this species.

Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) – photo illustrativeVladimir Turkenich/Shutterstock

Main photo source: Kristian Bell/Shutterstock

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