What do sharks eat?
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Thanks to the media and films like “Jaws” and Shark Tale”, there seems to be the perception amongst the general public that humans form part of the staple diet of all sharks. This misconception is especially true for the Great White Shark, which has received the worst press as far as being blamed for human attacks goes. Despite this perception, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Some studies have determined that Great White Sharks only attack if they are feeling threatened, wereas other studies have shown that most attacks on humans are a case of mistaken identity. It is thought that humans on surfboards resemble seals or turtles on the surface of the water to the Great White Shark, of which both animals form part of their main diet.
As one of the ocean’s greatest apex predators, the Great White Shark exploits a large variety of prey species. Known prey of the Great White Shark includes seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises, other sharks, turtles, rays, sea birds, larger game and smaller bait fish, crabs and squid. In South Africa, the highest concentrations of Great White Sharks are found in the vicinity of Cape Fur Seal colonies, which are prominent prey for the Great White Sharks. Off Seal Island, False Bay in South Africa, as many as 25 seals are attacked each morning during the winter months, making Seal Island one of the best places to observe natural predation by the Great White Shark.
Due to the large variety of shark species alive today, there are a number of foods that sharks eat depending on what species of shark one is talking about. Some shark species, like the Nurse Shark, prey on crabs, lobsters, squid, octopi, smaller fish and other crustaceans.
Generally, as the size of the shark increases, so does the size of its prey. Like the Great White Shark, other larger sharks such as the Hammerhead Shark will also prey on seals, penguins and other smaller species of sharks. However, some of the biggest sharks alive, such as the Whale Shark and Basking Shark, actually live by cruising around with their mouths open, filtering out both plankton (consisting of millions of tiny plants) and zooplankton (consisting of tiny animals like krill, squid larvae and jellyfish larvae).
If you are interested in sharks then you should really consider a Great White Shark cage diving and breaching trip. These tours will place you about as close as you will ever safely get to the Great White Sharks.
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