Vicious sharks who sank ship are so small they’re dubbed ‘pencils with teeth’

A small type of shark will try to eat 'almost anything' despite being so tiny as they're dubbed 'pencils with teeth'.

At just 15-20cm long these tiny little predators have been known to attach to and repeatedly twist at other animals pulling out "biscuit-sized chunks of flesh".

The glow-in-the dark sharks, officially called cookiecutter sharks, also have a history of trying to eat inanimate objects like submarines, boats and even underwater cables. Just this week a group of the fascinating species sank a catamaran off the coast of Australia.

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“They’ll find a large animal like a whale or a dolphin, living or dead, and attach themselves to it," Daryl McPhee, an associate professor of environmental science at Bond University, told the Guardian.

"They’ll twist and literally pull out a biscuit-sized chunks of flesh. They can do that repeatedly,” McPhee said.

The small sharks have been described as “pencils with teeth” and they have a history of being small but very fiesty.

During the Cold War, the sharks did enough damage to force a submarine that was part of the US Navy‘s nuclear fleet back to port.

An Ohio-class submarine, among the most advanced weapons technology during the Cold War, was initially suspected to have been damaged by a new Soviet weapon but was actually sabotaged by the cat-sized shark.

More recently three sailors were pulled from the sea on Wednesday (September 6) as they headed for the Australian city of Cairns from the remote Pacific nation Vanuatu, authorities said.

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In an Instagram post following the aftermath the group said the attacks were by cookiecutter sharks, which damaged the rear left of their inflatable catamaran leaving it “completely submerged underwater".

Prof Jodie Rummer, a marine biologist at James Cook University, says the cookiecutter was technically a parasite and behaved very differently to other sharks.

“They’re called the cookiecutter shark because they don’t actually swallow their prey,” she said. “They just take little bite-size morsels out of the side of them.

“They’re bioluminescent too, they glow. They’re a really cool species of shark. This unfortunate incident has given us an opportunity to learn about them.”

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