As part of an Australian scientific project for tracking Great White sharks, one particular nine-foot specimen was tagged and let loose. But a shocking thing happened to the Great White, one that scientists are having difficulty figuring out. As is detailed in the upcoming documentary "Hunt For The Super Predator," it appears that the nine-foot Great White shark was quickly pulled into the oceanic depths and apparently eaten by something. But just what sort of animal is large enough and formidable enough to take on the ocean's most fierce apex predator?
The Australia News Network reported June 9 that scientists that tagged the Great White shark were shocked to find the monitoring device on one of Australia's beaches, unattached to its previous carrier. The device acts as a "black box," a recorder of data, so the scientists retrieved what information they could in order to attempt to figure out just what happened to the missing shark.
Data indicates that there was a rapid temperature rise. There was also a sudden, precipitous plunge recorded -- a descent of 580 meters (1,902 feet) -- prior to the heightened temperature.
According to the experts, it is believed that shark was snagged by a much larger animal than itself and the rise in temperature is due to the Great White's being eaten, its body trapped in the digestive tract of some massive animal.
So what devoured the deep sea predator?
The working theory thus far is that the nine-foot Great White shark was eaten up a “colossal cannibal great white shark." Geekosystem called it a Mega Shark, a beast worthy of the exaggerated shark movies of the Syfy Channel. They noted that tracking data on the presumably eaten shark indicated that its devourer -- the "Cannibal Mega Shark," if you will -- would have had to have been roughly 16 feet long and weigh over 2 tons.
Sort of like if the shark from "Jaws" ate a half-grown version of itself...
Casey Chan of Geekosystem stripped the cannibal shark hypothesis down to its simplest form: "Big sharks eat little sharks."
Gizmodo found information about the black box and the story of the "mystery sea monster" that ate the tracked Great White shark on a YouTube video excerpt from an ABC Television documentary entitled "The Search for the Ocean’s Super Predator." The documentary "Hunt For The Super Predator" is a derivative work.
“When I was first told about the data that came back from the tag that was on the shark, I was absolutely blown away,” filmmaker Dave Riggs says in the documentary.
“The question that not only came to my mind but everyone’s mind who was involved was, ‘what did that?’ It was obviously eaten. What’s gonna eat a shark that big? What could kill a [9-foot] Great White?”
The story is detailed in the Smithsonian Institute documentary "The Hunt For The Super Predator," which will premiere at the end of the month, June 25, at 8 p.m. (EST) on the Smithsonian Channel.