World's First Vegetarian Shark Prefers Heads of Lettuce

© Birmingham National Sea Life Centre

Sharks have garnered a well-deserved reputation as the ocean's most ferocious killers, capable of sniffing out a single drop of blood in the water from miles away -- but for one nurse shark at an aquatic center in the UK, the taste of meat seems to have lost its luster.

Three years ago, a six-foot-long shark named Florence grabbed headlines by becoming the first of her kind to undergo a groundbreaking 'out of water' surgery to remove a rusty fish hook lodged in her gut. Although she made a remarkable recovery and was later put on exhibit at the Birmingham National Sea Life Center in England, Florence would eventually prove that being a good patient wasn't her only distinction.

As it turns out, the Florence's close brush with death-by-fisherman seems to have left a lasting impression on her -- namely, that meaty treats mean trouble. Much to her keepers' astonishment, the fearsome carnivore has made a rather unprecedented dietary turn; now the only heads she cares to gnash are heads of lettuce.

To be fair, nurse sharks in the wild are known to occasionally graze on algae, and the rigors of gastronomical surgery can take their toll -- but Florence appears to have taken on a meatless lifestyle full time.

According to Graham Burrows of the Sea Life Center, the shark has gone "completely veggie".

© Birmingham National Sea Life Centre

While Florence's new-found vegetarianism might otherwise be celebrated, wildlife specialists soon realized that they had to get her to eat meat one way or another in order to provide her with the proper nutrition that a shark needs.

“We’re having to hide pieces of fish inside celery sticks, hollowed out cucumbers and between the leaves of lettuces to get her to eat them,” Burrows tells Marketing Birmingham. “And it has to be well hidden, because if she realises it’s there she’ll ignore the offering and wait for the strictly vegetarian option.”

© Birmingham National Sea Life Centre

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