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What Do Sharks Eat?

Category: Fish.

The diet of sharks varies with species and also depends on what is available in their habitats. Sharks are very interesting sea animals. They can very easily adjust with their habitat. Though sharks look forward to certain types of food, they flexibly change their eating habits if their habitat presents a different variety of food options. Most shark species are meat eaters. Meat eating sharks prey on other types of fish and smaller sharks. Interestingly, larger sharks boldly pursue huge sea animals including dolphins and sea lions to catch them for their prey.

Crested bullhead shark feeding on the egg case of a Port Jackson shark. © Taso Viglas.

Unique characteristics of sharks

Sharks are apex predators and have a sharp sense of smell. They can also feel every small vibration in the ocean and can clearly see in the water environment, even under dim light. Thus, sharks don’t have any difficulty in finding their prey. The jaws and teeth of sharks are very powerful, enabling them to easily rip down their prey and bones. Generally while eating their prey, several sharks thrash the catch from different sides and finish it off in no time.

Not all are meat eaters

There are some shark species that don’t eat meat. Such sharks feed on small aquatic animals like clams and mollusks. These kinds of sharks reside at the bottom terrains of oceans where they can find their desired prey with ease. Usually, these types of sharks are small in size and therefore they don’t need huge volumes of food to survive. The other foods of sharks include lobsters, crabs and squids.

Caribbean reef shark eating a lionfish. © Ocean Fox.

If food is hard to find

If their desired food is scarce, sharks shift their eating patterns. Sharks don’t find it that comfortable to eat humans. Most instances of shark attacks have revealed that they bite the human victims and let them go when they realize that it is not their normal food. Though the damages due to shark bites can be large besides proving fatal in several cases, sharks don’t eat human beings. Very strangely, some sharks are found to eat oil, trash and coal that are dropped from the vessels traveling in the sea. Though most of such things don’t harm the sharks, sometimes, too much of these kinds of food can impact their digestive systems.

Their eating habits

Some sharks consume food measuring about 2% of their total weight daily, this is especially true for juvenile lemon sharks. This fact is rather surprising since many tend to think sharks might eat more. Some species of sharks feed on huge meals and stay without food for several days after that. Sharks are cold blooded and so they burn less energy than land animals and that too at a slower rate. Therefore, sharks don’t each as much food as land animals.


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