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Experts Have Captured Terrifying Footage Of A Deep-Sea Creature Swallowing A Shark Whole

Image: YouTube/ScienceAlertVideos
Almost 1,500 feet below the surface, researchers are filming the Atlantic Ocean seabed using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV). Yet in amongst the fish, coral and sponges, something far more sinister is lurking. And as they watch a school of sharks feasting on a swordfish carcass, a mysterious creature makes its deadly move.
Image: YouTube/ScienceAlertVideos
Now for 45 long minutes the team has been exploring the ocean floor, watching live images beamed from the ROV. Then, they stumble upon the fresh carcass, which draws creatures from far and wide to feast upon its flesh. And while fish, eels and crabs all get involved, a band of sharks is dominating the feeding frenzy.
Image: YouTube/ScienceAlertVideos
Indeed, with their beady eyes and wide mouths, members of the dogfish family dig in with ruthless abandon. But surprisingly, this is far from the most frightening thing that the team will discover in the depths below. And as the predators continue to feast on the carcass, another creature zooms in to take the spotlight. Shockingly, it makes an on-screen debut that the researchers will never forget.
Image: pixabay
In the 21st century, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we know everything about planet Earth. And despite mankind conquering the highest mountain peaks and exploring the remotest jungles, there are still hugely unexplored swathes. We’re talking, mainly of course, about the depths of the oceans which remain incredibly hazardous to us humans.
Image: pixabay
In fact, it’s often said that we know more about outer space than the world beneath the waves. And with water making up more than 70 percent of the Earth, there remain plenty of hidden secrets. However, with the help of scientists, we are finally beginning to unravel some of the mysteries of the sea.
Image: pixabay
Today, scientists believe that it is more important than ever to understand how the oceans and our climate are changing. So organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, commit themselves to studying the dynamics of planet Earth. What’s more, they openly share their knowledge and findings.
Image: pixabay
But it’s the NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) we are interested in on this occasion. Because this team of staff deal with exploring the secrets of the deep. And through studying the world beneath the waves, its researchers hope to safeguard the future of life on Earth.
Image: pixabay
“America’s future depends on understanding the ocean,” a statement on the OER’s website reads. “We explore the ocean because its health and resilience are vital to our economy and to our lives. We depend on the ocean to regulate weather and climate; sustain a diversity of life; for maritime shipping and national defense; and for food, energy, medicine, and other essential services to humankind.”
Image: NOAA Ocean Explorer
Taking that on board, on May 30, 2019, the NOAA launched an ocean expedition. It was entitled Windows to the Deep 2019: Exploration of the Deep-sea Habitats of the Southeastern United States. Furthermore, it would occur in two stages and last 44-days, with the aim of improving knowledge surrounding largely misunderstood environments. Specifically, this would apply to the coastal areas of states such as North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
Image: NOAA Ocean Explorer
According to the OER website, the purpose of this mission was manifold. As well as studying locations where methane seeps through the seafloor, the researchers hoped to find unusual sponge and coral ecosystems. Additionally, they aimed to explore underwater canyons in the area and document any life that may have emerged within them.
Image: NOAA Ocean Explorer
However, perhaps the most exciting objective was the search for relics that lie scattered across this part of the Atlantic. “There is perhaps no greater potential for archaeological studies in U.S. waters than along the Eastern Seaboard,” the NOAA’s Joseph Hoyt wrote on the organization’s website. And in this region, the researchers hoped that they might uncover evidence of a rich maritime history.
Image: NOAA Ocean Explorer
“This expedition NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer affords a rare opportunity to search the seabed for these connections to our past,” Hoyt continued. “What could we find? A small coastal trader? A paddle wheel steamer? A massive steel oil tanker? All are possibilities, and all have the potential to focus our attention on a forgotten piece of our shared heritage.”
Image: NOAA Ocean Explorer
Before the expedition, the NOAA had worked with fisheries and scientists to identify areas of interest off the southeastern coast. And during the first leg of the project, researchers worked on board the Okeanos Explorer to map out these regions.Then, a little over two weeks later, they moved on to the second leg of the project.
Image: NOAA Ocean Explorer
Now from June 20 onwards, the team began using a ROV to collect data from the seafloor. And eight days later, they launched the seventh dive of the expedition, some 80 miles from the South Carolina coast. In fact, they dove to a depth of more than 650 feet, hoping to uncover evidence of a long-lost shipwreck.
Image: National Archives and Records Administration. via NOAA Ocean Explorer
Initially, the team hoped to discover the remains of the American oil tanker SS Bloody Marsh. Apparently, the vessel had been sunk by a German U-boat in the waters off South Carolina during World War II. As the story goes, the ship was en route to New York from Houston, Texas, in July 1943. And because of its potentially volatile cargo, it was high on the NOAA’s wishlist of targets.
Image: NOAA Ocean Explorer
Sadly though, the team couldn’t find the remains of the SS Bloody Marsh this time round. However, they did discover an abundance of fascinating marine life while exploring the seafloor in the region. And soon, they had switched the focus of this particular dive from wreck-hunting to biological and geological study.
Image: NOAA Ocean Explorer
Not before long, the expedition began to turn up results. In fact, the researchers identified a species of coral that had not been previously seen during earlier dives. This was a “stony” coral from the family hydrozoa. However, it was what they stumbled upon in the last 45 minutes of the dive that really caused a stir.
Image: YouTube/ScienceAlertVideos
For you see, researchers watching live footage from the ROV spotted a cluster of sharks gathered around a swordfish carcass. Now this carcass had sunk all the way to the ocean floor. Apparently, the unfortunate creature had only recently died, and as many as 11 predators began digging into its quickly-depleting remains.
Image: YouTube/ScienceAlertVideos
According to experts, the sharks were actually representatives of two different species, both members of the Squalidae family. As well as a number of roughskin dogfish, which can grow up to four feet, there were numerous Genie’s dogfish. Interestingly, these creatures were only discovered in 2018, when they were named after Dr. Genie Clark, a renowned marine scientist.
Image: YouTube/ScienceAlertVideos
Amazingly, the NOAA researchers believe that these dogfish had likely traveled long distances in order to feed on the swordfish. What’s more, they suspect tracking down the carcass could have something to do with vibrations or chemicals in the water. For example, they say the vibrations could have come from the swordfish struggling, which were picked up by the dogfish.
Image: YouTube/ScienceAlertVideos
To add to this, researchers noted how the feast was a strong example of the marine food chain in action. Indeed, one noted how the swordfish, based either near the surface or at medium depths, died before traveling to the seabed. There, it became a worthy meal for creatures living at the bottom of the ocean.
Image: YouTube/ScienceAlertVideos
However, the unusual sight of sharks feeding on a swordfish was far from the most exciting thing to take place. Indeed, as the researchers were watching the creatures feed, via the ROV, something incredible happened. Slowly, from the gloom outside the ROV’s light beam, a giant wreckfish sailed into view.
Image: Getty Images
Typically found in deep water, wreckfish often lurk in underwater caves and amongst the remains of sunken ships. In fact, this is the reason for their evocative name. Mostly blue-gray in appearance, they display a ridge of spiny fins along their upper side and boast a big head. But let’s not forget to mention that they are equipped with an equally cavernous mouth. And soon, the researchers would see first-hand just what damage the creature’s mighty jaws are capable of.
Image: Kurt Bauschardt
Normally, wreckfish feed on migrating creatures such as squid and other fish. And with a plentiful supply, they can grow to a staggering 6.5 feet in length, weighing a maximum 220 pounds. Amazingly, they can also live as long as seven decades in the right conditions. What’s more, the wreckfish has no predators we know of.
Image: YouTube/ScienceAlertVideos
Now at first glance, the researchers might not think the swordfish is an obvious source of nutrition for the wreckfish. In fact, this particular creature doesn’t appear to want to join the feeding frenzy taking place amongst the sharks. However, the clever predator had something entirely different in mind. And it didn’t concern going after dead flesh.
Image: YouTube/ScienceAlertVideos
So as the researchers watched, the wreckfish swiftly emerged from the shadow of the ROV. Apparently, it had been using the vehicle as cover to approach the sharks, who remained unaware of its presence. And before anyone could register what was happening, the creature had snatched up a dogfish in its powerful jaws.
Image: YouTube/ScienceAlertVideos
Stunningly, the crew could see the tail of the doomed dogfish wriggling hopelessly in the predator’s jaws. And perhaps unsurprisingly, they reacted to the incredible sight with awe. “Oh my God!” cried out one researcher. “Yes. It has a whole shark in its mouth…Wow, I’m going to remember this forever.”
Image: YouTube/ScienceAlertVideos
Soon, it became clear that the crew of Okeanos Explorer weren’t the only ones awestruck by the wreckfish’s feeding tactics. And within weeks, the video had been viewed more than 1 million times. Meanwhile, writers for a number of online science websites were quick to draw attention to the staggering footage.
Image: YouTube/Gimbb14
Now surprisingly, it’s not the first time that a predator has been caught on camera indulging in a surprising meal. In fact, in August 2014 the YouTube channel Gimbb14 published a video of a fisherman hooking a black tip shark. Indeed, this was off the coast of Bonita Springs in Florida, and sadly, his triumph did not last for long.
Image: YouTube/Gimbb14
Dramatically, as the fisherman attempted to reel in his four-foot catch, an ominous shadow rose up from the depths below. And suddenly, a massive grouper broke the surface of the water, snatching the shark in one vicious bite. Furthermore, as those on the boat reacted with amazement, both creatures quickly vanished beneath the waves.
Image: pixabay
In fact, it may surprise you to know that the grouper video has been viewed more than 67 million times. And apparently, such ambitious meals are not unheard of where groupers are concerned. In fact, some four years later, a similar creature made the headlines in Everglades City. Strikingly, this is just around 50 miles from where the previous incident took place.
Image: pixabay
In July 2018 the Florida-based Everglades Fishing Company released a video from a recent excursion. And in it, a lucky angler can be seen landing a sizeable shark. However, just as the catch is being reeled in, the shadow of another giant grouper appears nearby. But this time, Captain Jimmy Wheeler knew exactly what to expect.
Image: Getty Images
“Watch this, you guys are going to freak out,” Wheeler can be heard warning his oblivious passengers. And suddenly, an Atlantic goliath grouper snatches the shark from the surface in one big gulp. According to those present, it’s thought that the massive fish weighed in at a staggering 500 pounds.
Image: pixabay
“He just sucked it in,” Wheeler’s wife Michelle explained in a 2018 interview with Fox News. “I don’t remember ever seeing anything this crazy.” However, the crew noted that the shark was not the grouper’s only big meal of the day. In fact, Wheeler himself later observed the same creature feasting on a stingray – or possibly a manta ray.
Image: pixabay
Intriguingly, unlike the wreckfish, goliath groupers are typically found in shallow waters, particularly in tropical regions. And usually, they feast on a diet of smaller prey such as fish, crustaceans and octopodes. However, they have also been observed attacking larger creatures such as lemon sharks and even human divers. And their size can be something to behold.
Image: Jeffrey L. Rotman/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images
Under the right conditions, goliath groupers can grow to more than eight feet long, and can weigh almost 800 pounds. And with their vast size, they are becoming a nuisance for the fishermen who share the same waters. “They’re eating everything,” Michelle said. What’s more, goliath groupers are protected in Florida due to their dwindling populations. So it’s unlikely to be stopped anytime soon from indulging in large meals.
Image: EVERGLADES FISHING COMPANY via Garden & Gun
In this instance, however, the goliath grouper ultimately failed to make a meal of the struggling shark. And after a brief struggle with the giant fish, the fisherman eventually persuaded the predator to relinquish its prey. Eventually, Wheeler and his team hoped to release the unfortunate creature back into the sea.
Image: Art Howard via NOAA Ocean Explorer
Meanwhile, after their wreckfish encounter, the NOAA team continued to research the underwater habitats off the southeastern United States. In fact, before the expedition finished on July 12, they completed a total of 19 dives. And as well as that unforgettable moment, there were also a number of other highlights to the mission.
Image: NOAA Ocean Explorer
For example, on the expedition’s 17th dive the researchers captured incredible footage of an octopus protecting her eggs. Now interestingly, this is a job that she might still be undertaking up to four years down the line. Furthermore, on their next trip beneath the surface, they stumbled upon an amazing collection of bubblegum coral. This was in a region known as Baltimore Canyon. Eventually, the mission concluded with a visit to the Norfolk Seeps – an area where methane escapes through the seafloor.
Image: pixabay
But while the researchers gathered numerous fascinating insights, the encounter from their seventh outing remained the most dramatic by far. “Sometimes ‘sharks just happen,’” the University of Connecticut’s Peter J. Auster explained in a post on the OER website dated June 2019. “You can’t plan on seeing these kinds of things, especially in the deep ocean. It is simply serendipity; by just spending enough time underwater and being prepared for the unexpected, you can stumble across scenes that will replay in your mind’s eye over and over for a lifetime.”

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