Jaws times 2: Shark caught eating a shark

Talk about shark bait: A smooth dogfish shark, hooked by University of Delaware scientists, got chomped by a sand tiger shark in Delaware Bay in July 2013.

What happened to professional courtesy?

We'd heard it's a dog-eat-dog world. Now we know it's also a shark-eat-shark world, thanks to scientists on a project involving the University of Delaware and Delaware State University.

Last month, they were trying to recatch tagged sharks in Delaware Bay, when a bait fish helped hook a three-foot-long smooth dogfish shark, which in turn was then gobbled by a sand tiger shark.

"We were trying to catch sharks that we tagged last year with internal archival tags that can detect other tagged fish around them, as well as external pop-off satellite tags that estimate the location of the shark," explained Danielle Haulsee, who's working toward her doctorate in oceanography at the University of Delaware.

The dogfish shark died, but the sand tiger shark was healthy enough to tag and send back into the bay, she said.

The photo just began getting picked up by media outlets around the world, even though it was posted July 21 on Facebook by the ORB Lab. (ORB stands for Ocean exploration, Remote sensing, Biogeography, according to its website.) 

"There's gotta be some kind of shark-based 'turducken' label for this kind of situation," quipped one commenter.

"It's a Russian doll shark!" joked another. (Matryosharka instead of matryoshka?)

Talk about shark bait.

Imagine if they'd let the pair float a little longer. Maybe a great white would have come along to extend the food chain.

Cue the theme from Jaws.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.