video observation of oral gastric eversion in a free-living caribbean reef shark (carcharhinus perezi) shows voluntary gastric eversion followed by retraction not only occurs, but is extremely rapid (lasting ∼0.3 s). eversion may occur by stomach relaxation–oesophageal contraction coupled with increased abdominal pressures to enable prolapse, and retraction by a mechanism analogous to suction feeding. this behaviour provides a ‘cleansing’ function for removing indigestible food particles, parasites or mucus from the stomach lining. sharks, and possibly other animals with similar gut morphologies, may use this technique to help maintain a healthy alimentary tract.
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