go big or go home

BOOM!! In case you didn’t know, it’s Shark Week on Discovery Channel. Shark Week has been a staple in my house since I was old enough to realize how cool sharks are, and that’s pretty young. In fact, Shark Week first aired in 1987, the year I happened to have been born.

Interestingly enough, Massachusetts has had some shark sightings this summer, and one was even tagged off the coast of Cape Cod recently. However this should not be a deterrent to beach lovers on the Cape: according to the most recent data, only 28 people were victims of shark attacks in 2009. Meanwhile, a whopping 4.5 million were the victims of dog attacks. So people, go swimming, and when everything goes fine and you go out to get ice cream after, don’t try and pet that cute dog tied to the parking meter without asking its owner first.

Probably one of the coolest aquatic exhibits in the country is the Georgia Aquarium, which houses three Manta Rays. These are the only manta rays in a U.S. aquarium to date. The aquarium also contains Whale Sharks, the largest fish in the world. They can grow up to 40 feet in length and eat plankton and fish eggs.

I can’t help but wonder, if an animal this large exists, and eats that much… what does it look like when it goes to the bathroom? Lucky for me, someone else in the world not only wondered the same thing, but was there to find out when the time was right. Lucky for them, they had a comfortable arial view and weren’t in a dive situation (that could have gotten messy).

The shot was taken by Al Dove, who runs a blog over here. According to him, fish can poop in massive quantities as seen in his photo (the cloud in his photo, he estimates, is over 30 feet in diameter) because whereas humans have a reliable and consistent digestive system, fish can almost be considered a big tube, and if they eat more, they can just force the “stool” out… by force. If he were in the water, it would have been possible to do some sampling to conduct research on the fishes excrements, which could be very helpful in understanding the diet of wild whale sharks. Unfortunately, however, he was in the plane. According to him though, he can at least use it as a means of grossing people out at parties. Good for you, Al Dove, good for you.

Alex Mojcher

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