Shark shocks Ibaraki aquarium staff by swallowing another shark

By Casey Baseel

With only about 20,000 residents, the city of Oarai, in Ibaraki Prefecture, isn’t exactly bursting with entertainment options. If you do find yourself with some time to kill there, though, you could stop by the Aqua World aquarium, where aquatic life including sea lions, jellyfish, and dolphins are on hand to greet visitors. The facility is even home to a number of sharks.

On a recent morning, one of the Aqua World caretakers was checking on the aquarium’s residents. At around 11 a.m., his rounds took him to the multi-tank Sea of Sharks exhibit.

The tank reserved for the largest creatures is home to a 1.6-meter whitetip reef shark, as well as a 2.8-meter sand tiger shark. Recently, the staff had been concerned by the latter’s lack of appetite, although the animal’s condition seemed to be improving.

Judging from the sight that greeted the caretaker that morning, the sand tiger shark is completely ready to start eating again, and in large quantities, too.

At some point when no one was looking, the larger of the two sharks unilaterally decided to change its smaller brethren’s role from “tank mate” to “breakfast.”

But while the sand tiger shark has the sharp teeth you’d expect from an animal with two apex predators in its name, it still wasn’t able to bite entirely through the hard skin of the whitetip. So the sand tiger switched to Plan B and tried to swallow the smaller shark whole.

This was easier said than done, though, and after about 40 minutes of struggling to choke the whitetip down, the sand tiger shark eventually gave up and ingloriously spat the deceased creature back out. The aquarium staff promptly removed the smaller one, worried that if they didn’t do so quickly, the hungry survivor might be tempted to try again. Sadly, the whitetip later died from the injuries it had sustained.

“In light of this event, we will be further increasing the effort we make when judging which sharks to place in the same tanks, taking into account their relative size and possible hostilities,” a spokesperson for the aquarium said. In the meantime, Aqua World hopes visitors will continue to support the facility and its Sea of Sharks exhibit.

Source: Jin

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That happens on Wall Street everyday!

17 ( +17 / -0 )

Why are people surprised by this? Sharks are known to be cannibals. If you watch a shark feeding frenzy, there are often sharks that get caught up in the mix and just become part of the original, an added piece, if you will. It's not something sharks normally do, but they are opportunistic and given the chance they will. Love sharks! amazing creatures.



3 ( +3 / -0 )

spat the deceased creature back out. ....... the whitetip later died from the injuries it had sustained.


It doesn't have to be sharks, and they don't have to be metres long. We learned the hard way that some fish do not see others as tank-mates. A couple of angel-fish can clear a tank of immature tetra, with shrimp for dessert. Have a few breeding pair of guppies or mollies in the tank, and the angels get fat quick.

On the plus side, if you have a colony of shrimp in the tank you're unlikely ever to see a dead fish.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

sharks! poor creatures stuck in a bathtub prison. no wonder it displayed odd behavior. hate zoo's and aquariums in general.

3 ( +5 / -1 )

If they're willing to eat their own kind, they'll definitely eat another species of shark.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wonder if sharks in these confined tanks also go "stir crazy" like some of the big cats you see cramped up on zoos.

These aquariums are fairly disgusting places, not even because of the violation of the creatures' natural lives for purely economic purposes ... but because they are usually a sort of pork belly funding for the construction industry.

They require huge amounts of natural resources to build and run, they incur town or cities with huge debts and what they are really all about is passing around the money to industries when then support the politicians.

As with the dolphin and SeaWorld parks in the USA ... think Blackfish ... one should avoid these things. They're another example of Japan's lack of imagination, Iron Triangle corruption, and slavish following of Western nations.

2 ( +7 / -4 )


"Why are people surprised by this?"

"It's not something sharks usually do."

Looks like you've answered your own question ; )

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I know, I was making up a story :P I teach small kids so I have to be imaginative! :)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

that girls and boys is what happens in nature, survival of the fitest. no need to butter coat it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Good one, lucabrasi!

Glad to see you back here, again!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Poor smaller shark! But that's nature eh, although one slow death!! Wonder if they had an argument between them on something, so the larger shark lost its appetite due to the argument until hey, bingo! It figured out its revenge plan. Or the larger shark is moody.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It says the larger shark had lost its appetite, Qamar. Maybe it was just tired of aquarium food, and then suddenly fancied some sashimi.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Now the people in Ibaraki have something to talk about......

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You should never put two aggressive animals in the same space. One will eventually attack the other to assume the dominant position in the tank. Maybe the two sharks lost their appetite because they were depressed by getting older while the other sharks were becoming more dominant? And then they decided to eat the smaller sharks to prove they are still the boss?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Very unfortunate considering they've been "tank mates" for the last ten years according to the news.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It would be good if the aquarium had a small sign on each tank declaring for example: "All the creatures within will one day be returned to the sea". More people might actually come and visit.

In other words, they could be 'borrowed' from the ocean, not taken and kept until they die and get used for feed, or thrown out in the trash."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lost, the problem isn't the tense, it's the idea of the poor shark being deceased before it died from its injuries.

We have three large angelfish in a 90cm tank - they live peacefully with corydoras, penguin tetra, mature neon tetra, kuhli roach and clown roach. When two of the angels get in mating mood, they gang up on the remaining wallflower who ends up hiding in the grass looking downcast until they've finished sticking eggs on the wall of the tank.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How hard is to understand that "googling" eyes of sharks should be done on the internet. Life is what happens. Get over it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's a shark eat shark world

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While I feel sorry for the one that died, I enjoyed the way this article was written ! There are usually so many errors in the articles (probably mostly "misprints") that this was a nice change !

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

What a surprise! Nature isn't all cuddly, or full of cute animals with cute faces! Shock!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

spat the deceased creature back out. ....... the whitetip later died from the injuries it had sustained.


Given that the article was written AFTER all the sweet action was finished, it makes sense to have it all in past tense. As for the example you cited, angel-fish are omnivorous and very territorial, unless you have a very large aquarium to afford a couple of angel-fish an expansive territory, they'll attack everything that cross their area.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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