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Great White Shark Dangles Seal Meal from Its Maw

"What? I'm saving it for later." (Image credit: Still from video, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy)

"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to swim with your mouth full?"

Not this female great white shark. The predator, with a partially eaten seal carcass hanging from her teeth, was caught on video by biologist Greg Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MA DMF), working with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC).

Measuring an estimated 11 feet (3.4 meters) in length, the shark — and its gruesome mouthful — was spied in Atlantic waters near Massachusetts, approximately 300 yards from the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. Researchers are currently conducting a five-year shark population study in the area, AWSC representatives wrote in a Facebook post describing the video.

Skomal used an underwater GoPro to capture the grisly sight, which AWSC representatives posted to their Facebook page on June 20. The shark cruises past the video camera with a portion of partly consumed seal torso dangling from her lower jaw, offering a rare glimpse of the large predator's feeding behavior. [In Photos: Great White Sharks Attack]

It is especially unusual to capture photos or video of sharks preying on seals in northwest Atlantic waters, though their deadly feeding strikes are well-documented from interactions off the African coast, an AWSC representative said in a comment on Facebook.

However, this wasn't the first time that AWSC video recorded a shark nomming a mouthful of pinniped. In 2014, one of their research teams filmed another great white shark, dubbed Salty, devouring a seal in waters near Chatham, Massachusetts.

Great white sharks' hunting strategies are a subject of great interest to marine biologists, who face enormous challenges when investigating the day-to-day behavior of ocean animals like sharks that live in the open sea, according to Gavin Naylor, a biology professor at the College of Charleston.

Naylor told Live Science in 2015 that observing great white sharks can be difficult because they are hard to raise in captivity, and studying them in their ocean home comes with hazards to divers.

When it comes to great whites, "there's a lot we still don't know," Naylor said. The Cape Cod area has come to be recognized as a location where great white sharks gather, offering AWSC researchers a unique opportunity to learn about their habits, Skomal said in a statement

This particular great white shark's video debut was the first time during the MA DMF survey that she was seen by the scientists, and she was assigned the catchy name "WS 16-02," the AWSC reported on Facebook.

Original article on Live Science.

Mindy Weisberger
Mindy Weisberger is a senior writer for Live Science covering general science topics, especially those relating to brains, bodies, and behaviors in humans and other animals — living and extinct. Mindy studied filmmaking at Columbia University; her videos about dinosaurs, biodiversity, human origins, evolution, and astrophysics appear in the American Museum of Natural History, on YouTube, and in museums and science centers worldwide. Follow Mindy on Twitter.