May 29, 2024

Cookie Cutter Shark (Isistius sp.) Bites on Cetaceans, with Particular Reference to Killer Whales (Orca) (Orcinus orca)


Sarah L. Dwyer and Ingrid N. Visser


Abstract: Forty-nine species of cetaceans have been recorded in the literature with cookie cutter shark (Isistius sp.) bites. The first record of a cookie cutter shark bite mark on orca (Orcinus orca) was from New Zealand waters in 1955. We present 37 unpublished records of cookie cutter shark bite marks on orca in tropical to cold waters; a further six published records were collated, and additionally 35 individuals with bite marks were noted in photo-identification catalogues. A total of 120 individuals and 198 bite marks were recorded, with the northernmost at 70° 44′ N and the southernmost at 77° 14′ S. We provide the first healing rate of a cookie cutter shark bite mark on an orca in New Zealand waters, with a maximum of 150 d between open wound and healed scar. Longevity of scars is considered, with one particular bite mark still visible as a dark grey oval/elliptic mark 1,158 d post photographing the open wound. Open cookie cutter shark bite marks were not observed on orca photo-graphed in Antarctic waters, despite the majority of bite marks being recorded on Antarctic orca. This suggests a high level of movement outside the Antarctic cold water regions as the known distribution of cookie cutter sharks is in warm temperate to tropical waters. Supporting evidence for these movements is given by records of Antarctic orca in New Zealand waters with open cookie cutter shark bite marks.

Key Words: cookie cutter shark, Isistius brasiliensis, Isistius plutodus, killer whale, Orcinus orca, bite, healing rate, Antarctica, New Zealand

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.37.2.2011.111

Page Numbers: 111-138

Info SKU: Vol__37__Iss__2__Dwyer Category: