The term “cookie cutter” never refers to a good thing. It brings to mind adjectives like bland and boring. No one wants to live in a cookie-cutter house, drive a cookie-cutter car, or wear cookie-cutter clothes. Entire big-budget marketing campaigns are focused on making you believe that if you buy that product, you will not be cookie cutter, that you’ll stand out from the crowd.

When applied to a shark, though, cookie cutter is neither boring, nor bland. But be warned, you want no part of this ocean predator. In this article from Wired magazine, find out what happened to long-distance swimmer Mike Spalding when he encountered the cookie cutter shark.

cookie_biteMarathon swimmer Mike Spalding was 10 hours into an epic 33-mile voyage between Maui and the Big Island when his escort boat lost sight of him. Being the middle of the night and all, the captain was forced to fire up his lights to reestablish contact with the kayaker at Spalding’s side.

This, ironically enough, is the absolute last resort when you get lost swimming in the darkness. With the kayak’s light now blazing as well, the creatures of the nighttime sea began to take notice. Squid amassed around Spalding as he slogged on, forming a slowly moving bait ball. He took a hit from one, and then another and another. After the fourth bump, Spalding felt a sharp pain in his chest.

It was the first bite, albeit just a nibble. The 62-year-old (that’s not a typo) Spalding broke for the kayak.

“As I was eggbeatering to get into the kayak with my legs perpendicular to the surface of the water, I felt this sharp hit on my leg,” he told WIRED. “It wasn’t painful, but it was like you got punched or something. And so I ran my fingers down my calf and I felt this hole.

Photos: Wired

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Joe is an avid saltwater angler. He grew up in Washington State on the south end of Puget Sound where he first started fishing as a boy catching perch, flounder, rockfish, and occasionally salmon. Today, Joe lives in Southern California where he fishes off beaches and jetties, kayaks, and sportfishing boats. Joe writes about his saltwater adventures in the SoCal Salty blog, and for Western Outdoor News.