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What Do Sharks Eat? Let’s Find Out!

Shark with mouth open

One of the first questions people usually ask about sharks is, “What do they eat? Do they eat humans?!”

We have shared a few blogs explaining that sharks do not hunt people. Humans are bony and not nearly fatty enough to be appealing to sharks. So what is the perfect shark meal? Well it depends on the shark!

CARNIVOROUS SHARKS

A carnivorous shark diet usually includes fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. Large species also consume marine mammals such as seals, dolphins, sea lions, and porpoises, as well as large fish species such as tuna, mackerel, and even smaller shark species. Some even extend their consumption to seabirds.

Some sharks are fussy with food and have specific preferences. For example, hammerhead sharks (Sphyrnidae family) feed almost exclusively on rays, while tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) prefer turtles and blue sharks (Prionace glauca) fancy for squids.

Carnivorous sharks are very skilled hunting and use multiple strategies to catch their prey. Large species can swallow an entire animal or tear them through mighty bites to take large chunks. Thresher sharks (Alopias), meanwhile, stun their prey with their tail and Sawsharks (Pristiophoridae) twist their catch inside the sand.

 

PLANKTIVORE SHARKS

These sharks passively feed on plankton, and they do not meet the traditional idea we have about these animals. But it is true, and in fact, some of the larger sharks prefer plankton to meat. These include the whale shark (Rhincodon Typus), the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) and the megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios).

Their feeding strategy is a process of suctioning water and filtrating the food on it through long filaments similar to whale beards. Sharks catch the plankton in the filaments and swallow them when some quantity accumulates. In average, the peregrine shark filters every hour about 2 million liters of water from which it obtains only 2 kilograms of plankton. Their teeth are tiny, although present; they do not use it in the feeding process.

Strictly all sharks are carnivores to some degree. And although it sounds incredible, they only consume 0.5 to 3.0 percent of their weight daily, because their ability to chew is deficient and they need a lot of time to digest their food.

The digestive system of sharks is very different from that of mammals, and this is the reason for their slow digestion. They have a spiral valve inside a short section, and their intestines are very short. When food passes from the mouth to the stomach, it is stored in this last portion and thus begins the process of digestion. If the shark feels that ingested any bad food, it is not digested by the stomach, and then it is expelled through the mouth.

HOW MUCH DO SHARKS EAT?

The amount of food that a shark eats each day depends on the type of shark it is.

Some Shark species will eat huge meals and then not eat again for weeks. They can survive on the oil that is stored in the liver when they do eat. When that gets low, they will have the instinct to eat again.

Sharks are cold-blooded, and that is the reason why sharks don’t have to eat as much as most people think; this means their circulation is slowed down, and they can burn energy at a slower rate.

As you can see, sharks eat a variety of foods. While most of them are meat eaters, that is not the only thing they eat. For millions of years, the various species of sharks have been able to evolve. One reason for this is that they have eaten what is readily available as necessary to stay healthy and to be able to reproduce successfully.

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