We may have posted shark dissections here before, but this might be the best case of shark 'nom nom nom' yet. Out latest dive into scalpel stories involves scientists from the Dyer Island Conservation Trust (DICT), who opened up a 570 kilogram (1,118 lb) great white and found something spectacular.

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DICT Predator Behaviour Specialist Michelle Wcisel with six cape fur seals removed from the stomach of the shark Image: Blair Ranford, Dyer Island Conservation Trust/used with permission

Inside the shark's stomach, scientists found a giant, amorphous ball of fur – which turned out to be SIX Cape fur seals, all at the same stage of digestion. This means that the animals were all ingested around the same time ... the aftermath of one serious scarfdown.

"This was a first for all of the researchers involved with the dissection," says DICT predator behaviour specialist Michelle Wcisel. "No one has ever seen that many seals stuffed in a white shark."

Even after blood sampling and tissue analysis, the shark showed no obvious signs of injury or cause of death ... but this supersized snack just might hold the key to understanding what happened. 

"We do know that when white sharks gorge themselves on whale, they can barely swim," explains Wcisel. "We reckon that if this shark had eaten too much and was lethargic, the strong swells in the area could have easily pushed it up the beach."

What's important to keep in mind here is that a never-before-seen situation isn't always unusual – there are a lot of things we don't know about these high-profile predators.

"The feeding patterns of white sharks around Geyser Rock [where the shark was found] are so poorly understood," notes Wcisel, adding that their behaviour is very unlike what has been established at Seal Island (home of the famous "Air Jaws" sharks). 

For Wcisel, the most interesting aspect of this feeding frenzy isn't how many seals the shark managed to get down, but how methodically it did so. "When the seals were removed and pieced back together you could see exactly how that shark killed them," she says. "The three older seals were all split right in the middle, it looked like a missile had cut them into two, and the three small seals were swallowed whole." 

It's always a shame to see sharks wash up dead, but autopsies give scientists a window into some of the most mysterious aspects of shark biology and (as in Wcisel's case) behaviour. So ... what do six partially digested seals look like? Have a watch if you can stomach it!

Top header image: Lwp Kommunikáció/Flickr