Sharks have impressive healing capabilities — but the most impressive documentation on record might be this lemon shark that ate a piece of silver and dispelled it out of its skin.

 

Stringers are loop-shaped, stainless steel tools used by spear fishermen to hold their catch in place during handling. A particular lemon shark managed to swallow one whole, after which point it perforated its stomach and proceeded to work its way through layers of tissue.

A team of divers and scientists were able to document the amazing process that ensued following consumption. They suspect the shark may have targeted a fisherman’s catch and swallowed the stringer along with the fish.

The research study took place off the coast of Juno Beach, Florida beginning in December 2014 at a location referred to as “Lemon Drop”, a recreational diving feeding site. A team of divers went down 12 times over the course of two years to observe the unusual behavior of the foreign object through the animal’s body.

In the beginning, the object protruded from the area behind the shark’s right pectoral fin. Eventually, one end of the metal piece broke through the skin of the underbelly of the shark and began slowly working its way out through the open wound until it completely broke free. The process took at least 435 days.

This is the first thoroughly documented transcoelomic expulsion of a foreign object and is a rare testament to the unique healing abilities of sharks.

“Ingestion of foreign objects by sharks has long been established in both the literature and popular culture,” wrote conservation biologist Dr Steven Kessel to Earth Touch News Network. “This has largely been the result of a long-standing human fascination with cutting open shark stomachs to reveal strange contents, such as bibles, unexploded bombs and ticking watches.”

The fact that this lemon shark survived after so much internal damage is truly amazing, and attests to how much more we still need to learn about their unique healing capacities.

The full study is published in CSIRO.