The shocking scenes unfolded during the filming of David Attenborough’s famous BBC series Blue Planet 2. Researchers used a Triton submarine to plunge more than 1000m below the ocean surface, where they uncovered the carcass of a huge whale. However, within minutes, the team came face-to-face with a hungry sixgill shark that began to devour the remains.
As it did so, the predator attracted some unwanted attention from its peers, though.
Sir David said in 2017: “Sixgill sharks have an exceptionally acute sense of smell.
“Just 25 minutes after the whale’s carcass arrives, a sixgill finds it.
“Each bite releases blood into the current and the news that food is available spreads quickly.
“Two more ravenous sixgills arrive and within twelve hours, there are seven enormous sharks jostling with one another as they compete to tear off mouthfuls.
“No one is prepared to back off.”
Video footage shows seven sharks battling it out together, so one can emerge on top and claim the ultimate prize of dinner – which could feed them for up to a year.
Sir David added: “24 hours later and a third of the carcass has gone.
“The first arrival has gorged until it’s completely full.
“This single meal may be enough to sustain it for a whole year.
“Then the clean-up team arrives – Spider crabs carrying coral in their hind legs for makeshift armour.”
The find came at a depth known to divers as the “twilight zone”.
During the series, researchers uncovered a bizarre creature in this same area.
In a layer of mud, up to a mile thick, they uncovered a unique animal that had mutated itself over the years.
Sir David said: “The seabed may, at first, appear lifeless, but it is home to a unique cast of mud-dwellers.
“The sea toad – an ambush predator with an enormous mouth and infinite patience.
“This fish has been living for so long here that its fins have changed into something more useful – feet.
“They help it shuffle about on the sea floor.”
The sea toad belongs to a family of deep sea fish known as Chaunacidae, which can be found at depths of up to 2,460 metres.
They have large, globose bodies and short, compressed tails, and are covered with small, spiny scales.
This fish can grow up to 30cm in length and it mutilates its own dorsal fin to become a better predator.