Why does a shark spit out its stomach?

Marine biologist Austin Gallager during one of his research on the Florida Keys archipelago pulled a tiger shark 2.5 meters long from the water. At the same time, right before the eyes of the biologist, the animal spat out a huge plume of bird feathers. The biologist has already heard about the "vomiting" of sharks, but never seen: you can rarely observe this phenomenon in the natural environment.

When sharks are stressed, they try to free themselves from excess, and they “spit out” not only food. And sometimes your own stomach.

Some sharks, such as tiger, are very voracious. They absorb in their path everything that seems edible to them. Including things that their stomach can not digest - bird feathers, shells of turtles or bones. If a shark finds itself in a non-standard situation that causes stress in it (for example, it is stuck in a fishing net), then the animal seeks to immediately get rid of indigestible "food".

They may find it easier to get out of the trap on an empty stomach, says Neil Hammerschlag, a biologist at the University of Miami specializing in shark research.

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But why then do sharks spit out their own stomach? (By the way, this phenomenon has a scientific name - stomach eversion). In fact, for a predator, this is a great way to cleanse your stomach.

Center for Coastal Studies

“Sharks just flush the internal organ, ” says researcher Gregory Skomel. - “A 2005 research paper describes the similar behavior of carnivorous fish in the reefs of the Caribbean. Biologists argue that this way the shark removes indigestible particles of food, parasites and mucus. "

To “flush” the stomach, the shark needs only a couple of seconds - then it calmly “draws” the internal organ back. Researchers even managed to capture this phenomenon on video.

However, not all sharks are so lucky. Austin Gallagher notes that during his research, some representatives were unable to “pull” the organ back after flushing (possibly again due to stress). The biologist helped several sharks to "return" the stomach with the help of long objects, for example, pliers - with his bare hands, the biologist did not dare to help.

Neil Hammerschlag says that while studying predatory fish, he also encountered other unusual situations. Once in South Africa, he saw a white shark spit out a just-eaten seal after a larger relative swam up to it. Probably, the "small" shark was frightened and did not want to engage in battle, so it gave up its prey so easily, the researcher suggests.

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