What Are Some of the Ways That Sharks Feed?


Quick Answer

Depending upon the species, sharks rely upon a diverse range of feeding techniques to consume a wide variety of marine organisms that include large creatures with a high fat content, such as seals, and smaller aquatic life forms, such as fish, squid, mollusks, crustaceans and plankton. Certain species of sharks, such as whale sharks, use specialized sieve-like structures called gill rakers to collect plankton and other small microorganisms that they swallow when large mouthfuls have been accumulated. A specialized feeding technique of the megamouth shark makes use of luminescent tissue within its mouth to attract its prey.

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Full Answer

Many shark species are apex predators, which means that they feed at the top of the food chain in their ecosystem and no other carnivore feeds on them. The large great white shark and the relatively smaller salmon shark are two apex predators in their respective environments. The salmon shark's rather voracious feeding habits have been estimated to have reduced the Pacific salmon population by about 12 to 25 percent, which reflects a concern for the commercial salmon industry.

Sharks that live close to the seabed have developed specialized ambush techniques, such as the angel shark, which makes use of a camouflage strategy to lie in wait until its prey comes within striking distance. Many species of sharks are cooperative predators, swimming in schools in search of the more elusive types of prey that might otherwise escape a solitary-predator feeding strategy.

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