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The image of a baby shark that bears a striking resemblance to the popular children’s cartoon is attracting everyone’s attention. An Indonesian fisherman told local media that he picked up the baby shark with a “human face” after accidentally catching an adult shark in his net.
Heavy approached marine biology experts at the University of Florida and the University of Miami to ask for professional opinions on the accuracy of the photos. While it’s impossible to determine with 100% certainty whether Indonesian photos are real, experts say baby sharks may look like this. The shark in question may have suffered a birth defect.
Heavy also reached out to shark research biologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We have not received a response from them yet, but we will update this post once we do.
The Fisherman Said Only 1 of the 3 Baby Sharks Had the Distinct Look
Indonesian fisherman Abdullah Nuren told local media that he was fishing near Pepela Village in East Nusa Tenggara province on February 20. According to translated versions of local websites, Nuren said that he inadvertently caught a pregnant shark in his trawl. (According to Oceana, trawling involves dragging heavy nets across the ocean floor.)
Nuren and his brother opened the captured female shark and found three babies inside. Baby sharks are called pups, as explained by the Greater Cleveland Aquarium.
Nuren said he was “surprised” to discover that while two of the cubs looked like his mother, the third “looks like a human face.” Nuren added that he has preserved the body of the baby shark for safekeeping. He said that he has received offers from interested buyers, but as of now, Nuren does not plan to sell it.
The Baby Shark’s ‘Eyes’ May Actually Be Nasal Cavities
The “eyes” of the baby shark, which appear to resemble the famous cartoon, are probably not eyes at all. Heavy heard from Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the University of Florida and curator of the Florida Museum of Natural History.
He replied that, in his professional opinion, the baby shark image appears to be legitimate. Naylor explained by email that “what might look like ‘eyes’ are the nasal capsules that have not closed completely. If you rolled the shark, you would see the eyes positioned dorsolaterally.” He pointed out that the actual eyes of the shark would be much smaller than the nasal capsules.
Naylor also said that the shark appears to belong to the Carcharhinidae family. According to the San Diego Museum of Natural History, this type of fish, also called “requiem sharks,” can range in size from less than 40 inches to more than 24 feet. They are described as “torpedo-shaped and slim-bodied with rounded snouts.” The museum explains that the shark feeds on other types of fish, as well as marine mammals and birds.