Feeding Nature
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What Do Sharks Eat?

Sharks are some of the most terrifying animals found in the water.  They have been around for over 420 million years and there are over 500 species of shark.  The smallest shark specie is the dwarf lantern shark that only reaches 17cm in length. 

The largest shark is the whale shark which can grow up to 12 meters in length.  

They are found all over the world and are happy to venture to great depths up to 2,000 meters. 

Most sharks are saltwater species although there are a few such as the bull shark and river shark that can also swim in freshwaters.

 

What Do Sharks Eat?

Sharks are carnivores. 

They mostly consume fish and large sea mammals such as dolphins and seals.  Here is a quick look at the most common food that sharks love to eat.

 

Fish

Fish is one of the most common food sources for most shark species.  Sharks will eat all sorts of fish.  They enjoy eating large species such as tuna, mackerel, and even stingrays. 

Some sharks might even catch and eat smaller shark species.

 

Mollusks

Sharks often eat mollusks they find in the sea.  There are lots of mollusk types found in the sea and sharks will eat just about any of these.  They are happy to catch clams, sea snails, squid, oysters, scallops, octopus, and many others.

 Some shark species prefer certain foods over others.  Blue sharks, for example, mostly feed on squids.  They might try other foods occasionally but squid is their primary food source.

 

Crustaceans

Sharks will also catch and eat large crustaceans.  There is a huge variety of crustaceans they may choose to eat.  Their favorites include species like crab, lobster, crayfish, shrimp, prawn, krill, and woodlice.  

Smaller shark species typically prefer smaller crustaceans, especially species who prefer to swallow their food whole.

 

Marine mammals

Sharks will catch and eat all sorts of marine mammals.  Aquatic mammals such as seals, small whales, manatees, sea otters, polar bears, and others are all a tasty treat to sharks.  These foods are, however, not as common in ocean depths and are usually hunted close to the coastlines.

 

Seabirds

Some shark species have adapted their diet to include seabirds.  They will catch and eat bird species such as penguins, loons, gerbes, and seagulls when these birds are trying to catch fish in the sea.  

While seabirds are good food sources to certain shark species, this is not a primary food source but rather an occasional snack for these sea dogs.

 

Turtles

Sharks will also catch and eat sea turtles.  It is mostly large sharks such as tiger sharks that catch and eat sea turtles. 

Sharks are some of the biggest predators of sea turtles and 90% of hatchlings are caught by predators before they can reach adulthood.

 

Plankton

Some shark species such as basking sharks, whale sharks, and megamouth sharks evolved strategies to help them filter and feed on plankton.  Different filtering techniques are used by different shark species but these mostly live on plankton and small fish species to survive.

 

Diet Variations

Sharks do often confuse certain species with their usual foods.  When this happens they usually only take a single bite of these foods before realizing that the food is not part of their usual diet.  This confusion or curiosity of sharks sometimes results in human shark bites and other types of animals might also fall prey to them. 

 

How Much Do Sharks Eat?

Sharks usually eat 0.5 – 3.0% of their body weight with each mealtime but they do not feed every single day.  

 

How Often Do Sharks Eat?

Most sharks eat every 2 – 3 days because they cannot chew very well and require the extra time to digest their meals.  

 

What do Baby Sharks Eat?

Baby sharks are called pups.  Some shark species are born alive (ovoviviparous reproduction) while others are hatched from eggs (oviparous reproduction).  But all shark pups are independent from the start.  

Shark pups are mostly found in swallow warmer waters and they will eat the same basic foods as large sharks but usually focus on smaller prey.  Some shark pups reach maturity at the age of 4 but others can take a lot longer. 

The Greenland shark is an expectation from most shark species since this shark won’t reach maturity until it is 150 years old.

 

What Do Wild Sharks Eat?

In the wild, sharks can only eat what they find in their natural habitat and they are found close to where their favorite foods live.  They usually rely on fish, mollusks, plankton, sea mammals, and seabirds to survive.

 

What Do Sharks Like To Eat The Most?

A shark’s favorite food depends on its species.  Hammerhead sharks prefer stingrays.  Tiger sharks prefer turtles and blue sharks prefer squids.  

 

Do Sharks Eat Sharks?

Sharks are carnivorous. 

Some species of shark such as the tiger shark, spotted rag tooth shark, and grey nurse shark will eat their siblings before they are even born.  Inside the womb, the baby sharks will eat their siblings until it is time for them to be born.  

Right from the start, shark pups need to be wary of larger sharks, including their own species because they can easily become prey to these bigger sharks.

 

How Do Sharks Eat Their Prey?

Sharks do use a variety of strategies to catch their prey.  They naturally blend into their environment and can easily sneak up on most of their prey.  Some shark species swallow their prey whole while others can tear pieces of flesh from larger sea animals to devour these foods bit by bit.  

 

Do Sharks eat Humans?

Sharks are not very fond of human flesh.  In most cases of shark bites, they are curious about humans or might confuse you with other types of food.  When sharks do bite humans they usually let the human go because they prefer their usual foods.  

 

Are Sharks Dangerous?

Sharks are predators. 

As with all land predators, they can be dangerous and might attack humans out of frustration or curiosity.  Some sharks are so enormous, they often cause a lot of damage when they bite humans.  A single bite can result in the loss of limbs or even fatality.  

Although the chances of a shark biting you might be slim, it is best to avoid swimming in beaches where there are no shark nets.