Body Found in Belly of Tiger Shark

Arms, leg and ribs - but no head - found in belly of underwater beast

By Hank Tester and Todd Wright
|  Tuesday, Sep 7, 2010  |  Updated 3:15 PM EDT
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Bahamian authorities are trying to identify human remains that were found in the belly of a tiger shark caught off the island nation's coast over the weekend.

The 12-foot shark was hooked 35 miles south of New Providence near the Exuma chain by men who were targeting grouper, not the ocean predator.

When the shark bit onto a grouper that was caught by the fisherman, they claim it spit up a human foot. That's when they decided to reel it in for closer inspection.

"We tied the rope around his tail fin, and pulled him towards the boat. We were going to cut the hook out of his mouth and let him go when he regurgitated a human foot — intact from the knee down," a fisherman told the Bahamian newspaper, Tribune242.com.

Once they got the shark on land, they cut its belly open to reveal more body parts that were clearly human - a leg, an arm and what appears to be a rib cage. There was no head.

It's unclear if the aggressive tiger shark actually killed the human or simply ate a drowning victim, authorities said. The body was partially decomposed and digested. Officials could identify enough to conclude that the victim was a heavy set, black man.

The fishermen took the shark to the Royal Bahamas Defense Force Base in Nassau where the remains were collected and will undergo DNA testing to determine who it is and what might have happened.

Tiger sharks have been known to eat anything and are widely considered by experts as the scavengers of the shark world. License plates, birds, turtle shells and boat parts have all been found in the bellies of tiger sharks.

This time, the find was far more gruesome.

Authorities said the victim could be one of the missing boaters they have been looking for since last week. A boat reported engine trouble while offshore, then officials lost contact with the crew. The boaters still have not been found.

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