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Great White Shark Disappearance Ignites Search for New Super Predator

When looking at incredibly detailed satellite photos of the Earth, or following turn-by-turn directions on the street, it's easy to forget how much we still don't know about our planet. The deep sea, for instance, remains mostly unexplored. With all that mystery, it shouldn't be a surprise that sometimes scary and unpleasant questions present themselves, like, "What could have possibly eaten a 9-foot great white shark?"

The story is chronicled in the upcoming Smithsonian documentary, "Hunt for the Super Predator." As part of Australia's first-ever large-scale tagging and tracking program for great whites, cinematographer Dave Riggs and a film crew found the perfect specimen. They named it "Shark Alpha" and successfully planted a tracking device on the 9-foot female. Four months later, however, the tag washed up on the beach and was found by a passer-by.

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Shark Alpha is tagged.

Shark Alpha is tagged.

Riggs was puzzled by the data it contained. Alpha had plunged straight down the side of the continental shelf, more than 1,500 feet deep. While the temperature of ocean water drops considerably in deep water, the tag itself actually heated up, from 46 degrees Fahrenheit to 78 degrees. That means the tag had to have been inside the belly of another animal. Alpha had been attacked, and bested, but by what?

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The temperature rises as the tag keeps diving.

The temperature rises as the tag keeps diving.

A Reddit post had the Internet's eager theorists at work. Some suggested an orca or a giant squid could have been the culprit. While the answer isn't certain, scientists think it is likely that due to a territorial dispute or extreme hunger, Alpha was eaten by another shark. They call the likely predator a "colossal cannibal great white shark," a name that might scare more than a few people out of the water for good. Still, we're not ruling out a kraken.

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