Weak Stomach? Read No Further!

There’s no nice way to put this. Some ocean animals can vomit up their entire stomach, sometimes even their intestines. And we’re not talking just contents. Known as stomach eversion, this ability provides these creatures with a very thorough but none-too-pretty way to clean out their insides.

Sharks perform this stomach churning trick for a number of reasons. Perhaps the shark has eaten something it shouldn’t have. By temporarily ejecting its stomach out through its mouth, bones, feathers, shells, and even plastics and other toxins simply wash away. Sharks also do this if they are under stress, or even to eat more.

Rays are closely related to sharks, so it should come as no surprise that they can barf up their stomach as well. Specifically, researchers have discovered that the thornback ray can rinse out its stomach externally just like some sharks. This ray does not live in our area, so we catch a break there.

Sea cucumbers (from the same family as starfish and sea urchins) can spew out their stomach (and even other internal organs) to entangle a predator. Sometimes the everted organs even detach. Don’t worry though, eventually their guts will regenerate. By the way, the sea cucumber is not a vegetable and is found in the ocean all over the world.

Last but not least, there’s the starfish or seastar. This critter has powerful arms that they use to pull their prey – usually a clam – apart. Once they have an opening, they force their entire stomach out of their mouth and into the clam. When they are done (some eat their prey alive while others secrete enzymes to digest the clam externally), they put their full stomach back into their body until hunger strikes again.

We humans, of course, cannot evert our stomachs. An esophageal sphincter in our throat limits us to just “tossing our cookies.”

Lovely. Now go eat your breakfast.

For more awesome info like this from NJ Sea Grant, CLICK HERE!