Great white sharks have stunned scientists with their ability to mend horrific wounds, and a series of research photos revealed it happens at amazing speed.
The images are of a 10.5-foot male white shark named Tony Hawk, who was found in 2018 with large chunks of flesh ripped from its gills.
Those wounds had all but vanished when the shark was encountered not long after in the Northwest Atlantic, according to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. The flesh had regrown, the wound had closed and little more than a tight scar remained.
“These photos are only a little over a year apart! ... Take a look at the incredible healing abilities of WS Tony Hawk,” the conservancy wrote May 24 on Facebook.
“It’s suspected that Tony Hawk received this injury from a boat strike.”
Shark experts have only recently begun documenting white shark healing abilities, thanks to the use of satellite tracking tags.
Aggressive great white sharks are known to bite each other, leaving large scars. However, boat propellers can cause more serious injuries, often ripping dorsal fins in half or carving out large pieces of flesh.
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy has shared examples of mangled dorsal fins on Facebook, and noted they “zipped” up over time. In such cases, the wounds “healed from the bottom-up, reconstructing the fin over time,” the conservancy says.
Tracking tags have also revealed white sharks in the Northwest Atlantic use the East Coast like a giant oceanic highway. They spend summer off New England and Nova Scotia, then move south to the Gulf of Mexico for the winter.
The motive for this specific path remains undiscovered, but experts believe it has to do with water temperature, pursuit of prey and possibly using the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a mating ground.