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shark jaws used to cut mooring rope

Taking a Bite Out of Lines

Deep-sea moorings face many hazards, including waves, storms, saltwater, vandalism—and hungry fish. Suspecting that fish were biting through their mooring lines, in the late 1960s the WHOI Buoy Group began experimenting with various ways lines could be damaged. In one test, they used shark teeth, still attached to the jaws, to cut ropes that were pulled taut. The resulting clean cuts resembled those seen on lines that had been recovered from the ocean. Their investigations showed that sharks attack mooring lines in warm, shallow waters, and that other species such as lancet fish attack lines in cold, deep waters. (Photo courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Archives)


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