The Bestiary: Swellshark
The scariest thing about the sea is how little we know of it. As the saying goes, we know less about the oceans than the surface of the moon. And that’s the scientists. The laymen know even less, and even most of that is skewed and laden with misinformation, no little thanks to the media’s sensationalistic fuckery that proposes that the entire ocean is out to fillet your ass. (As a reminder, my continous insistence that the sea is a writhing Lovecraftian hellscape full of man-eating terror is a conscious exaggeration for the sake of comedy. Please do not take my writing style seriously.)
The worst case of this is obviously sharks. The poor things have been so much vilified for no reason. Ever since Jaws and its massive cultural impact, sharks became the go-to bad guy of the animal world, with real-life effects too. (Can I say widespread shark hunting after the movie came out? I’m sure I can.) It also caused various memetic bullshit spreading about sharks that means we ended up with films like this.
Pictured: what the fresh hell
A trend I noticed in this killer shark shittery is that the “killer shark” is always a Great White. Always, always a Great White, which is also the first thing that pops into people’s minds when someone says “shark”. It’s like other sharks don’t exist, which is sad because sharks are a group as diverse as, say, carnivore mammals. Can you imagine if people wrote off carnivores as just wolves and nothing else? Because this is exactly like that.
Sharks are crazy diverse, but we never manage to peel our eyes away from the Great White for a long enough time to notice how insane they are. We have stuff like sawfish,
and the utterly ridiculous thing called the wobbegong. (Yes, that is a shark.)
What I’m basically saying is that sharks have as many forms as any other order of animals do, and people are so preoccupied with tacking as many CGI teeth on the Great White as it is humanly possible that we don’t notice how interesting, and weird, and fucking stupid sharks can be.
Seriously, I dare you to go to a shark horror movie and take the shark danger seriously after acquainting yourself with today’s specimen, the swellshark. Because this guy is just so ridiculous, I swear to Cthulhu.
This right here is today’s specimen, Cephaloscyllium ventriosum. It’s a pretty run-of-the-mill shark, small, brown and pointy-nosed, but its entire life goal is to methodically fuck up the fearsome reputation its Great White cousin has worked so hard for, and be absolutely laughable.
It spends all day being a lazy ass and sleeping in rocky crevices, hunting at night by being even more of a lazy ass and lying in wait until the prey is mere centimeters away, or even more of a lazy ass by laying on the rock bottom with its mouth open and literally waiting for the prey to swim into it. However, sometimes it can be a surpisingly daft little shit and raid human lobster traps without getting caught.
The stupid part is its self defense strategy.
So we’ve established that this little fuck lives in rock crevices. Naturally, this means that anything sufficiently determined and hungry can easily pull it out, right?
Wrong. Because if threatened, the swellshark lives up to its name by pulling the most ludicrous defense stunt this side of self destruction.
It sucks up water, and does this.
IT INFLATES. IT FUCKING INFLATES. THIS IS AN INFLATABLE SHARK. I QUIT.
Furthermore, it bites into its own tail and thus turns into a swollen little donut that’s completely impossible to dislodge from the crevice it’s in. I mean it works, but it’s so dumb.
To take away even more from the fearsome reputation of sharks, it is bioluminescent, and it has a tendency of sleeping in heaps of fellow little sharks.
So the next time someone puts out an Ultra Mutant Killer Shark movie, remember that there is a shark that glows in the dark, sleeps in cuddle piles and inflates to defend itself, and have a merry day laughing at the film’s stupidity.