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How a Shark's Jaws Work

A shark’s jaws are like a precision machine. They can unhinge while attacking, allowing the shark to extend the reach of its teeth. This even creates a partial vacuum to suck in prey – few things can escape a shark's bite.

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Sharkopedia : How Sharks Hunt |

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Watch A Shark Feeding Frenzy in Action

Sharkopedia : How Sharks Hunt |

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Wherever There's Sealife, A Shark's There, Ready to Eat It

There are many factors that play into where and what a shark eats. Aside from geographic location, the varying levels of the sea and aquatic life found in certain areas affect the kind of food that’s available.

Oceanic whitetip sharks live in the wide-open areas of the ocean where food is often hard to find. These sharks have adapted to these conditions with incredible speed and tenacity—so when food is found, it’s as good as theirs. Large sharks like great whites often hang out around coastlines where they can easily pick off marine mammals like seals and sea lions.

Other sharks hunt far below the ocean’s surface. The frilled shark is an eel-like creature that dwells up to a mile below the surface where they eat deep-sea bony fish and squid.

And some sharks migrate long distances for their meals. Blacktip sharks and some spinner sharks make an annual journey from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, to south Florida in search of large baitfish like mullet. Bronze whaler sharks intuitively follow millions of sardines during their migration up the southeast African coast and feed on shoals of fish.

Sharks are even found in the freezing waters of the sub-Arctic where they hunt fish and scavenge polar bears and reindeers.

Sharkopedia : How Sharks Hunt |

Catch of the Day: 15 Things Sharks Eat

15 LARGE BONY FISH

Larger sharks like makos and tiger sharks eat large fish like salmon, mackerel, sturgeon, and tuna.

14 SMALL BONY FISH

Mid-sized sharks like thresher sharks and reef sharks eat small bony fish like anchovies, sardines, and herring. When anchovies migrate up the coast of eastern Africa, copper sharks (also known as bronze whalers) follow in massive numbers.

13 OTHER SHARKS

Some large sharks, like great whites, actually eat smaller sharks including dogfish, blacktip sharks and whitetip reef sharks. You might think of it as a form of cannibalism… but a meal’s a meal right?

12 SEABIRDS

While eating some of the same fish that sharks like, seabirds like shearwaters and gulls often become meals for sharks, like tiger sharks and great whites.

11 SEA TURTLES

Large sharks, like great whites and tiger sharks, occasionally eat sea turtles. A tiger shark’s unique teeth shape can tear tough turtle shells open like a can opener.

10 WHALE CALVES

While adult whales don’t normally have to concern themselves with shark attacks, they do have to protect their calves. Whales will swim with their babies over their heads or beside them to keep them close in case of danger. If a whale calf is abandoned or sick, some large sharks like dusky sharks will attack.

9 SMALL DOLPHINS

Yes, even the agile and speedy dolphin can end up as shark chow. The large and fast tiger shark has been known to catch and feast on young and weak dolphins. But as a rule, dolphins, like elephants, protect their pack members against sharks and other predators.

8 STINGRAYS

These flat, diamond-shaped fish are food for crafty sharks like hammerheads, which use their super-powered electro-senses to detect the stingrays hidden beneath the sand and ocean beds.

7 SEALS

Seals are fast and agile, but irresistible for sharks that can catch them, like the great white. Seals are wrapped in energy-rich blubber, which helps great whites fatten up and gain strength for the colder months of winter.

6 SEA LIONS

Sea lions are the noisy, long-flippered versions of their close cousins, the seals. Unlike seals, sea lions tend to spend more time on land and hang out in huge packs known as herds or rafts. Some sharks can sometimes catch sea lions as they hang out on the edge of the water. Sea lions are faster than many sharks, but sharks use an element of surprise to sneak up on their prey.

5 SQUID

With a soft squishy exterior, squid is a popular meal for many different kinds of sharks. When squid group together during breeding season, sharks like blues and makos take advantage, attacking them in large numbers.

4 CRABS

Crabs are easy, protein-rich meals for sharks that can crack their tough exteriors. The horn shark is one such shark; it has sharp, wide back teeth for crushing a crab’s shell and bones.

3 CLAMS

Angel sharks eat clams with their small but strong spiny-like teeth. Clams and other crustaceans can be found on the bottom of the ocean.

2 PLANKTON

Sharks like basking and whale sharks keep their mouths open as they swim to devour small animals called plankton, filtering out water from their food. These sharks have bristle-like structures called gill rakers to trap the tiny creatures.

1 KRILL

These small shrimp-like crustaceans are about the size of a paper clip and swim in swarms, which make it easy for filter feeding sharks to eat them by the mouthful. The basking shark can open its mouth up to 3 feet wide to capture and trap krill, using its gill rakers to filter out water.

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How Sharks Hunt