What Do Baby Sharks Eat?

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Baby sharks, appropriately called “pups,” eat smaller quantities of the same food that adult sharks eat. Although the exact composition of the diet will vary due to species, environmental factors and availability, most shark pups eat fish, mollusks, crustaceans, krill, marine mammals and plankton.

More than 465 species of sharks are known to be alive today. Of these, the majority are ovoviviparous. This means that the fertilized egg is retained within the oviduct of the mother until it hatches. It emerges fully formed and functional from the oviduct. While still in the oviduct, some shark pups actually eat the other eggs that are waiting to hatch.

Other shark species bear young through oviparous or viviparous means. The former involves an egg to be released into the water, covered by a protective egg case. The shark pup then hatches alone and fully formed. Viviparous birth means that the shark pup actually develops inside the mother and has a placental link to her in order to receive nutrition and remove waste. These sharks enter the world through a live birth process similar to that of mammals.

In all shark species, once a shark pup is born, it is entirely on its own. The mother does not care for it. Shark pups are born as miniature adults with a full set of teeth and are able to hunt for food immediately following birth.