What Do Sharks Eat the Most | Sharks Diet

Almost all sharks are carnivorous. They have adapted a number of different feeding tactics. These sharks include whale sharks, megamouth sharks, and basking sharks. Some shark species are very fond of eating marine mammals. Great whites and tiger sharks usually consume both live and dead marine animals, but many sharks rely on dead animals for their consumption.

What Do Sharks Eat

Great White Sharks Diet

  1. Great whites have adapted a diverse diet as it feeds on bony fish, cetaceans, sharks, and rays. Prominent among the prey is Cape fur seal which is a very important food for sharks living in the southern African coast.
  2. Although they bite almost any non-food item yet great whites are specialized feeders and are very choosy in what they actually eat.
  3. Records have shown that great whites also prey African penguins and seabirds off the South African coast.
  4. Like other sharks great white sharks are carnivores and they feed on several species including pinnipeds, fish, cetaceans, and seabeds.
  5. The fish prey consists of rays, tuna, and other sharks.
  6. Pinnipeds consist of fur seals, sea lions, and seals.
  7. Cetaceans include porpoises, whales, and dolphins.
  8. Great whites also prey sea otters, sea turtles, and seabirds.

Read More: Great White Shark Facts

what do sharks eat
Bull Shark feeding on fish ©dingdong.ga

Dogfish Sharks Diet

  • Many dogfishes also feed on other dogfishes including Centrophorus, Etmopterus, and Squalus.
  • It also takes on cookie-cutter sharks. Dogfishes are of small sizes which is why they feed on several squids.
  • Greenland sharks are known to feed on hazelnut-sized snails. Their diet includes bristle stars, amphipods, jellyfish, snails, crabs, sea urchins, seabirds, and squids. They prey many different fishes such as herrings, capelins, chars, skates, small sharks, eels, redfishes, lumpfishes, wolfishes, sculpins, salmons, halibuts, and haddock. Marine mammals including narwhals and seals also make the most of their diet.
  • Cookie-cutter sharks primarily feed on many invertebrates and vertebrates. It takes on small prey items such as bristlemouths, squids, and crustaceans. The diet consists of large prey items especially megamouth sharks, wahoos, tunas, marlins, dugongs, pinnipeds, and other cetaceans.
  • Piked dogfish typically hunts in packs. The bulk of their diet is composed of fish followed by some invertebrates and squid. Piked dogfishes in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean are known to consume menhadens, herrings, mackerels, capelins, and sand lances.

Mackerel Sharks Diet

  • Mackerel fish is an extremely active hunter and it usually feeds on many fish families (such as sharks and rays). It also eats numerous invertebrates including octopi, crustaceans, gastropods, and squids.
  • Marine mammals include dolphins, whale carcasses, pinnipeds and whales. Mackerel sharks also consume oceanic birds and marine turtles.
  • Unlike other sharks, basking shark is a passive feeder as it feeds small fish, invertebrates, and zooplankton. It is not known to actively swim after the prey.
  • Basking shark is able to take large amount of zooplankton as it swims with its open being wide open. It usually feeds in the summer months near the surface.
  • Megamouth sharks mainly feed on zooplankton including euphasiid shrimp, jellyfish, and copepods.
  • Sand tiger sharks eat demersal bony fish, rays, sharks, marine mammals, cephalopods, crustaceans, and wide range of other pelagic fishes.

Tiger Sharks Diet

  • True to its name, tiger shark is an apex predator and will feed on almost anything. It is known to prey many small fish including cephalopods, mollusks, and jellyfish.
  • Tiger shark’s diet consists of seabirds, crustaceans, sea snakes, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, dugongs, spotted dolphins, sea lions, seals, loggerhead turtles, green sea turtles, sandbar sharks.
  • Tiger sharks are known to prey several different invertebrates and vertebrates. They have a least specialized diet and are opportunistic scavengers.
  • They also ingest inedible objects such as plastics, trash, and cans. The diet consists of large fishes including rays, sharks, and tarpon. It is also known to attack birds that rest at the water surface.

Read More: Tiger Shark Facts For Kids

Bullhead/Horn Sharks Diet

  • Bullhead sharks primarily prey hard-shelled benthic invertebrates such as shrimp, starfish, lobsters, barnacles, crabs, gastropods, polychaetes, and urchins.
  • Many bullheads also rely on several small fish for their consumption.
  • The young bullheads usually consume soft prey since their teeth are still in their development stage.
  • They use strong suction technique to hunt.
  • California bullhead sharks are known to consume several invertebrates including octopuses, shrimp, bivalves, urchins, crabs, polychaetes, gastropods, and anemones.
  • Port Jackson sharks also rely on benthic invertebrates such as starfish, crabs, shrimps, gastropods, polychaetes, bivalves, and small fishes.
  • Crustaceans include shrimps, isopods, and crabs.
  • They also feed on sea stars, peanut worms, and cephalopods along with small bony fishes. The young horn sharks eat small clams, polychaete worms, and sea anemones.
  • They rely on sense of smell for their hunting.

Read More: How Do Great White Sharks Hunt?

what do sharks eat
Great White shark on the hunt ©Rob Lawrence

Ground Sharks

  • As against filter feeders, ground sharks are voracious predators as they hunt many different bony fishes such as rays, sharks, and it also includes marine mammals.
  • They also feed on marine reptiles, carrion, turtles, octopi, squid, seabirds, and many invertebrates such as cuttlefish, crustaceans, and shelled mollusks.
  • Benthic ground sharks are likely to eat species at the bottom for e.g. pelagic fishes, tunas and their allies (Scrombidae).
  • Larger ground sharks consume smaller sharks species. The tiger shark has the least selective diet. Many sharks are not very selective in their feeding habits, except hammerheads which are known to consume stingrays.  

Goblin Sharks Diet

  • The goblin shark is known to consume rattails, dragonflies, crustaceans, and cephalopods. Crustaceans include isopods and decapods.
  • Goblins also prey on bottom-dwelling species such as blackbelly rosefish.
  • They eat squid especially Teuthowenia pellucida.
  • They are not fast swimmers but are actually ambush hunters. Goblin sharks usually wait for the prey to come in its range after which it snaps forward and capture.

Bluntnose Sixgill Sharks Diet

  • These sharks are known to consume lots of fishes such as marlins, grenadiers, dolfinfishes, herrings, hake, flounders, ling, cod, and other sharks and rays.
  • It also feeds on invertebrates for example crabs, squids, and shrimps. It is unlikely to be eaten and thus has very few predators.

Broadnose Sevengill Sharks Diet

  • These sharks voraciously prey many different fish species including sturgeon, salmon, and anchovies. They also feed on other sharks especially houndsharks, dogfishes, and hooked individuals of its species.
  • They also consume rays including eagle rays. Predators are not known for this species.

Angelsharks Diet

  • Angelshark’s diet is composed of many fishes and invertebrates. Thanks to their large mouth that allow them to ingest large prey items. They typically consume cephalopods, crustaceans, bivalves, argentines, skates, hake, crabs, mollusks, and many other bony fishes.
  • Pacific angelsharks mainly feed on croakers, halibut, squid, shrimp, squid eggs, and blacksmith. They also take on peppered catshark (Galeus piperatus) in the Gulf of California.

Read More: Angel Shark Facts For Kids

Sawsharks Diet

  • Sawsharks are averaged size sharks and they predominantly feed on invertebrates including squids and crustaceans.
  • Common sawsharks are known to prey cornetfishes and invertebrates especially crustaceans.
  • Sixgill sawsharks eat hake, eels, gapers, squid, and shrimp.

Hammerhead Sharks Diet

  • Hammerhead sharks also feed on a good many number of marine animals such as crustaceans, octopus, squid, fish, and other sharks.
  • For hammerhead sharks, stingray fish is a really treat to offer.

Read More: Hammerhead Shark Facts For Kids

Blue Sharks Diet

  • Blue sharks rely on a number of invertebrates such as pelagic octopuses, crab, lobster, shrimp, mammalian carrion, small sharks, many bony fishes, seabirds and cuttlefish.
  • They seldom eat tuna fish. However, blue sharks like to feed on the little skate.

Read More: Blue Shark Facts

Bull Sharks Diet

  • The bull shark predominantly feeds on many bony fish and small sharks. They also feed on other certain other bull sharks.
  • The diet consists of echinoderms, stingrays, crustaceans, turtles, dolphins, and birds.

Read More: Bull Shark Facts For Kids

Grey Reef Sharks Diet

  • Grey reef sharks primarily feed on octopus and squid, including crustaceans such as lobsters and crabs.
  • These are big sharks so they rely on a large number of cephalopods. They have an acute sense of smell.

Caribbean Reef Sharks’ Diet

Caribbean sharks most commonly consume bony fishes, elasmobranchs, eagle rays, and cephalopods. It also feeds on yellow stingrays.

Whale Sharks Diet

Whale sharks prey on marine animals such as Christmas land red crab larvae, plankton, skill, krill, and vertebrates. It also eats other small fish.

Nurse Sharks Diet

  • Nurse sharks are known to feed on small fishes and invertebrates such as shrimps, crabs, sea urchins, spiny lobsters, and squids.
  • A recent study in Florida shows that the nurse shark is an opportunistic feeder as it eats a wide range of bony fish species ranging from 8 – 23 cm in length. It captures its prey via powerful sucking action.


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