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Instagram photo by adventureswithivanJaws of a Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) that was caught at a kelong off Pasir Panjang in 1967. Its stomach contents included human remains (supposedly two arms, a leg, and ribs), although these were never identified. Whether this shark had killed and eaten someone, or scavenged a corpse, is a mystery that will likely never be solved. Reports of sightings of large sharks and even attacks on people in Singapore waters were not uncommon in the late 19th to mid 20th century. It was said that sharks would follow ships into harbour, attracted by the prospect of eating whatever edible trash was tossed overboard. The end of that practice, along with massive coastal development as well as fishing, likely eliminated the large sharks from our coastal ecosystems. Today, most sightings of sharks are of much smaller species such as Black-tipped Reef Sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus), Bamboo Sharks (Chiloscyllium sp.) and Coral Catshark (Atelomycterus marmoratus), although anglers have caught larger species such as Tawny Nurse Shark (Nebrius ferrugineus) and Zebra Shark (Stegostoma fasciatum), and what was said to be a juvenile Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas) was found stranded in the dry dock at Sembawang Shipyard, although it's not known if these finds indicate local breeding populations or wanderers from elsewhere. Over the decades, the newspapers have reported other marine giants, including Giant Grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus), and humongous Sawfish (Pristis sp.) and Wedgefish (Rhynchobatus sp.), species that are unfortunately not often seen anymore, or likely even locally extinct in the case of the Sawfish. There have also been records of Black Marlin (Istiompax indica), Sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus), and even Shortfin Mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) and Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) in our waters, likely strays from the South China Sea. It does make you wonder about what could be, if Singapore's marine ecosystems were allowed to flourish even more. The second photo shows the same set of Tiger Shark jaws in the old Exhibition Gallery of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, the previous incarnation of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

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