The great white shark is indisputably one of the most well-known predators in the world. Few people have seen a great white up close and fewer still would like to. Every once in a while a saltwater angler may find themselves fighting an unusually strong shark, getting a rare chance to tag and release one of the ocean’s most ferocious carnivores. Few great whites, however, suffer the indignity of choking on their own food. According to the Western Australia Department of Fisheries, that is exactly what happened near Coronation Beach last week.

An investigation by experts found that the cause of death for a 13-foot shark found near the beach was a large Australian sea lion lodged in its throat.

“This could explain why the shark was exhibiting such unusual behaviour in shallow waters off Coronation Beach. It is possible that the shark was trying to dislodge the blockage,” said researcher Rory McAuley. “Such a large object may have damaged the shark’s internal organs or impeded water flow into his gills, contributing to his death. Alternatively, the shark may have accidentally become stranded in his attempts to get rid of the obstruction.”

The great white was seen by beach-goers shortly before it died, and was reported to be swimming erratically. Bystanders initially thought that the shark was sick or injured, but the shark washed ashore two days later.

Talk about biting off more than you can chew.

Image from Pterantula (Terry Goss) on the Wikimedia Commons

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