Shark chokes on sea lion: ‘They can’t choke to death like humans’
A great white shark that washed ashore on an Australian beach was found to have a large Australian sea lion stuck in its throat.
The 13-plus-foot shark choked and died, according to the Western Australia Department of Fisheries. On Saturday, the shark was seen in distress, thrashing in shallow surf at Australia's Coronation Beach. Beachgoers took video of the fish and posted it on YouTube, where the footage has gone viral. Two days later, the shark washed up on the same beach.
Shark expert Chris Lowe, of the Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab, said it's unlikely the blockage itself killed the shark. "They can't choke to death like humans since an esophageal block doesn't restrict breathing in a shark," he told the Los Angeles Times by email. "It's most likely that the shark was rubbing along the seafloor to dislodge the food and the animal just stranded and couldn't get back to deeper water."
Australian sea lions can grow as large as 8 feet in length and weigh up to 660 pounds.
Lowe noted that most sharks have a flexible and elastic esophagus that allows them to swallow very large chunks of food. "They also possess the ability to evert their stomachs out of their mouths in order to rid the stomach of undigestible items like bones and shells."
Sometimes that trick, however, doesn't work, as in the case of the shark and the sea lion. And here's another example.
In an incident in the fall of 2013, two Canadian men made news when they saved a Greenland shark that was choking on a piece of moose.
The shark was lying on the beach with moose hide sticking out of its mouth, CBC News reported. Two local men pulled out the chunk with "a couple yanks" then pushed and pulled the shark, with the help of a rope tied to its tail, back out to water.
"All of a sudden, the water started coming out of his gills and he started breathing."
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