Just thinking of sharks evokes images of those razor-like, serrated teeth that decimate fish and crustaceans in seconds. It is therefore not surprising that one shark's refusal to eat its normal diet and instead opt to nosh on healthier fare like cucumber and celery is making headlines, all over the world.
Florence a Nurse shark that lives at the Birmingham National Sea Life Center in England, did not start out life as a vegetarian. When she was brought in from Florida in 2009, she was happily crunching on any seafood she could get her teeth on. However that changed in a few months, and she suddenly stopped eating completely. Concerned, the center officials took her in for an x-ray, which revealed that the poor shark was harboring a rusted fishing hook, deep inside her mouth.
They took her to Nick Masters, a specialty veterinarian who realized that the only way to save the shark was by performing a rather risky, out of water surgery - Something that had been done just once before.
Fortunately, things went really well. Not only was the rusty hook removed, but the shark also recovered nicely. Just when everybody thought Florence's health issues were behind her, the history-making shark began turning her nose away from her natural prey, instead preferring to use her sharp teeth to crunch on vegetables!
While this may sound great, it is not really good for Florence's health given that the greens she consumes have no protein whatsoever, something she needs, to survive.
The staff at the Sea Life Center have therefore begun deceiving her by hiding bits of fish inside hollowed out cucumbers or in the hollow of a celery stick and feeding it to her. While it works most days, they have to be quite careful because if Florence even gets a whiff of the fish, she simply turns her head away and refuses to eat.
Shark experts all over the world are confused at Florence's behavior and speculate that it may have to do with the trauma the hook caused and the subsequent surgery, but unless she speaks up, nobody is really going to know the real reason.
Commonly found in the Western Atlantic Ocean and Eastern Pacific Ocean, Nurse sharks are large sluggish animals that usually reside at the bottom of the oceans. Ranging in size from 2-13 feet their most prominent feature is the thousands of serrated teeth that are arranged in rows and are capable of rotating into different positions to take the place of any that may break. Though they look ferocious, they are quite lazy and only bother to attack humans, if provoked. Instead, they utilize the teeth to crunch the shells of their prey, which include shrimp, squid, crabs, lobster, sea urchins and even corals.
Resources: enchantedlearning.com, dailymail.co.uk, marketingbirmingham.com, huffingtonpost,com