Grim moment massive eel bursts THROUGH heron’s throat to escape being eaten alive
AN AMATEUR wildlife photographer shared the grim moment a massive eel burst through a heron's throat to escape being eaten alive.
Engineer Sam Davis, 58, from Maryland in the United States, captured the mind-boggling snap of a snake eel bursting out of the heron that had caught it just moments earlier.
Snake eels are a family of eel species which live most of their lives burrowed in the soft sand on the floor of the ocean.
When eaten alive by predators, the eels can perform a gruesome escape by using their hard-pointed tail tip, which is for digging, to burst through the predator's stomach wall to escape digestion.
The photo, shared on Instagram, shows the eel ripping through the throat of the Great Blue Heron as it flies in the sky.
"I went to the refuge to photograph foxes and eagles and whatever else may be interesting," Sam said.
"There were two young eagles that saw the herons predicament and were following him around, I assume they sensed a meal.
"Initially, I thought the heron was bitten on the neck by a snake or eel.
“When I got home and edited the photos I could see it was an eel that was coming through his neck. I could see his eyes and he was still alive."
Sam, who shares his photos to nature fans on his Instagram (@22smd) added: "The wildlife refuge said they have never seen anything like that before. It is kind of a morbid photo.
"There was also a fox who sensed that there was an animal in distress.
"He followed the heron also and kept an eye on the eagles."
Snake eels can grow up to seven feet or more in length, and their sharp tails account for more than half their body length.
In a study published earlier this year, scientists found the first evidence of snake eels bursting through the stomach walls of predators.
Scientists from the Queensland Museum discovered the behaviour while collecting fish from waters off northern Australia.
They found preserved eels trapped in the bodies of a number of fish.
Jeff Johnson, who co-authored the paper, told The Guardian: "Most animals burrow head-first, but snake eels use their hard tail tip to dig straight into the soft sea substrate.
"When they are swallowed and take exception to that they just use that same mechanism to burst straight out through the stomach wall."
He added: "This process is bizarre, but our research indicates that it is not rare.
"It is likely that other species of snake eels will also be involved and many more species of predators will be involved in eel penetrations."
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