A German scuba diver witnessed something very unusual on the island of Titikavek, a dead eel in a very strange condition on the island, which is a part of the Cook Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
The scuba diver, Tim Mayern found the dead eel with a pufferfish in its mouth. He initially thought that it was a piece of driftwood, but when he went near it with his three-year-old daughter Charlie, he realised what it was.
Before contacting local marine biologist Kirby Morejohn to ascertain the cause of the eel’s death, Mayern asked his wife Lucile and son Yann to come to witness the scene.
The biologist explained that the predator had probably tried to swallow the porcupine pufferfish, which inflated itself in its defence.
He added that usually fish breathe with the help of gills, eels suck water in through their mouths. To drive his point home, Kirby said that the pufferfish stuck in its throat would have led the eel to suffocate.
Kirby stated that he had never seen such a scene and he got blown away by it. “I couldn’t believe that this type of interaction existed and that I’d never heard about it,” the biologist said.
He further stated that eels are perceived scary owing to their open, gaping, toothy mouths, adding that when the puffer fish inflated itself in the eel’s mouth, it would not have been able to suck water and would have died of suffocation.
Kirby also highlighted an interesting point. He said that if the puffer fish was a usual meal for eels, it would be able to adjust its size. The biologist asserted that it was not the case.
Mayern revealed that upon seeing the eel, he rushed back to call his family. He said that the eel would have been about 1.3metre in length.
“It looks like the porcupine fish got the better of the eel but they both paid the ultimate price. And right behind them a rainbow was plunging into the horizon. It was surreal,” he said.