What do sharks eat?

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Sharks, along with rays, belong to the group of elasmobranch fish. These fish are characterized by having a cartilaginous skeleton, which weighs less than a bone skeleton and, therefore, makes it easier for the animal to swim. The shark usually causes panic in society due to its large size and strong jaws, as there have been cases in which it has attacked people. However, we will see how humans are not a food that is included in the usual diet of this impressive fish..

If you want to know what sharks eat and many other curiosities about the feeding of sharks, do not hesitate to read this AnimalWised article.

You may also be interested in: What do seals eat? Index
  1. Digestive system of sharks
  2. What sharks eat?
  3. Sharks that eat plankton
  4. How much do sharks eat?
  5. Do sharks eat people?

Digestive system of sharks

Sharks have a simple but curious digestive system. The mouth is provided with numerous rows of teeth sharp, which are constantly renewed, since the teeth of these animals are fragile and they can lose them during the hunt for their prey.

The esophagus is very short, while the stomach has large dimensions and is J-shaped. Food is stored and digested in it, a period that usually takes between 1 and 3 days. At the end of the stomach is the pylorus, an opening that communicates with the intestine and prevents the passage of materials that it has ingested by mistake and that are not useful for the animal. In fact, the shark's stomach has the ability to revert undigested matter back to the outside by way of regurgitation. This can also be done to distract or escape from their predators, since in this way they create a kind of cloud with debris that prevents other animals from seeing.

The intestine is something more complex because that in it is the spiral valve, an organ made up of folds whose main objective is to increase the absorption surface of the digested food that passes through the intestines. Depending on the shapes and folds of the spiral valve, different species of sharks can be differentiated.

After obtaining the necessary nutrients, the waste passes through the rectum to the cloaca, orifice where the urinary system also empties. Finally, everything comes out through the anus that is in the posterior area of ​​the shark's pelvic fins.

What sharks eat?

Sharks are fish carnivores, since they usually feed on other fish, crustaceans, mollusks and turtles. His way of hunting is stealth. First, they detect the prey from great kilometers away thanks to the vibrations that it produces in the water and that are interpreted by the shark. In addition, they have highly developed organs like vision and smell, for they can smell a drop of blood at a great distance. They sneak up on the food and when they are close to it they reach a higher speed to prevent it from escaping. Among the carnivorous sharks, the bull shark, the hammerhead shark and the mako shark. All these consume different types of animal life without practically any discrimination, since they are three species of the best predators that exist. They like to hunt sardines, squid, dolphins, other small sharks, cephalopods, snails, crabs, etc. Until now, no shark specimen is known that feeds only on a single type of animal, since its preferences will vary depending on the area where it is found and the food available at that time..

If, in addition to knowing what sharks eat, you want to discover how they eat, don't miss this other article: "¿How do sharks hunt their prey? ".

What does the white shark eat

The White shark (Carcharodon carcharias) is one of the largest and most fearsome shark species that exists. It is also a carnivore, so the white shark's diet is based on the consumption of other animals. In fact, there have been cases in which this animal can consume other animals larger than a simple cephalopod or little fishes, because it also ingests marine mammals such as seals Y dolphins. It is also not uncommon to see him feeding on birds that occasionally perch in the water.

These animals can dare practically with anything because they are great predators, however, it is more difficult for them to hunt other marine animals such as orcas, since they live in herds and are larger. The shark, in these cases, could lose out.

Now that you know what sharks eat and, specifically, what the great white shark eats, if you want to know more about the types of sharks that exist, you can read Types of sharks - Species and their characteristics.

Sharks that eat plankton

Although practically all sharks eat what we have described in the previous section, there are species that also feed on plankton, that is, on microscopic living organisms that are suspended in the water column. It is the case of whale shark (Rhincodon typus), the broadmouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) and the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus). Thus, shark feeding can vary greatly depending on the species..

These large fish simply need to open their mouths while swimming to filter large amounts of water, which is directed towards the gill arches where there are sheets that act as a filter to retain the plankton and allow the remaining water to pass through. This plankton can be plant or phytoplankton, as is the case with some algae, and zooplankton, such as some annelids and small arthropods..

How much do sharks eat?

Because many of the sharks are famous for their large size and voracity when it comes to hunting, many are the people who believe that they are insatiable animals. However, sharks typically only consume about a 1-2% of your total body weight, since they have a lower metabolism than other animals and take several days to digest the food, as we have explained previously. Despite this, there are some species that eat larger amounts of food and store it for a certain time. For this reason, it is important to know the species from which you want to obtain more information in order to know all the details related to its diet..

Do sharks eat people?

We have always heard of a shark attack on a swimmer, which usually generates panic. However, it should be noted that humans are not a common food that they consume these fish. In fact, most of the times in which a shark has hunted a person, this has been released because it is not to the liking of the animal, although finally the wounds caused by its strong jaws can cause death..

However, it is not ruled out that a shark feeds on people, as there may be some reasons for this to happen. Thus, the main causes that can explain that a shark eats people are the following:

  • The mistake with another marine animal like seals.
  • The shortage of your usual food in the middle, which makes him turn to the human being as the last option.
  • As a consequence of be threatened in its territory.
  • For knowing human flesh, because like many fish, some sharks are very curious and take bites of the unknown. It is known that the white shark and the tiger shark are the ones that have caused the most damage to a swimmer and, especially, to surfers.

Even so, the number of shark attacks on people is not as high as we might think, since most sharks prefer their usual food before any human meat. That is why many divers dare to swim and study these large animals closely without fear..

Now that you know what sharks eat and other curiosities such as their metabolism and digestive system, don't miss these other articles to continue learning more about these incredible fish:

  • ¿How Sharks Sleep?
  • ¿How sharks are born?

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