By Amelia Meyer
By Amelia Meyer
All sharks are carnivores, which means that they feed on other animals as opposed to vegetation. Most sharks survive off living flesh, while some may eat carrion, which is made up of the remains of fish and other marine animals that have already died. Sharks are usually thought of as having huge, razor-sharp teeth, just waiting to tear through the flesh of hapless prey. In the cases of some aggressive and large sharks, this may be true. However, sharks and their teeth are designed for varied diets. The Whale Shark, for example, feeds on plankton and small bony fish. For this reason, its teeth are largely undeveloped, and the catching of such prey is performed via sieves in its mouth.
In general, sharks will eat fish, other sharks, squid, molluscs, crustaceans, turtles, dolphins, porpoises, rays and seals, amongst other animals. The key ingredient in their prey needs to be fat, as this provides them with energy for travelling, hunting and maintaining an optimal body temperature.
Sharks tend to stick to one type of prey, and their hunting technique and teeth are usually designed to suit this type of eating plan. So, those that eat squid and fish will have sharp, pointy teeth that will grip slippery victims. On the other hand, those that feed on crustaceans and molluscs will need flat teeth for crunching and grinding through those tough exoskeletons. Sharks like the Great White are equipped with serrated teeth that allow the seizing and ripping of flesh as well as the ability to chew through the shell of a marine turtle.
The Tiger Shark is known for eating almost anything it encounters. While this usually comprises other animals, both alive and dead, it also includes inanimate objects;pollution that has made its way into their home environment. In fact, specimens have been discovered with licence plates from motor vehicles included in their stomach contents.
When hunting, a shark will target the smallest or weakest prey. These are far easier to catch, allowing the shark to conserve energy, better used keeping warm and swimming further. Injured or panicked animals emit a stronger electromagnetic force, attracting sharks to them with ease.
A shark will eat between one and 10 percent of its own body weight each week. This is relatively little food, implying that it needs to be sourced using as little energy as possible and it needs to provide the maximum amount of nutrients and fuel for the shark.
Sharks that are bottom-feeders have special adaptations. Their mouths are situated on the underside of the head and they use the top jaw to pick prey up from the ocean floor.
Most sharks do not chew their food. They either swallow the entire animal whole, or they tear and rip chunks of flesh off the body. This is frequently what happens in the case of attacks on humans. The shark grabs a chunk of flesh and rips it from the body. While there may be no further attempt at harming the person, these injuries are often bad enough to maim or even kill the victim.
In order to better understand and know the many fascinating shark species, it is vital to take such factors as their diet into account. As human beings continue to fish and pollute the waters, the prey populations continue to deplete. This will have serious implications for the predators that feed off these animals, which will ultimately affect people and their safety in the water as well as the all-important marine biodiversity.
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