Do Sharks Eat Whales? [Rarely! Here’s What They Eat]

Photo: Nikolay Zaborskikh / Shutterstock

Sharks are natural-born predators that hunt small mammals, fish, and sometimes squid.

Using their excellent sight, a strong sense of smell, and electroreceptor sensors, they hunt alone.

Sharks typically do not eat whales. Some people have caught sharks attacking juvenile whales, but it is a rare occurrence. Great White sharks are the only type of sharks with the strength to attack a whale.

Keep on reading to find out more about how sharks eat whales and more facts about their interesting diets.

The Diet Of A Shark

All 500 species of sharks have unique diets and live throughout the world. Sharks are carnivorous and mainly feast on large schools of fish, small mammals like baby whales and dolphins, and birds.

There are two main shark diets, carnivores, and planktivores. Carnivores are meat eaters, while planktivores are bottom feeders usually consuming water, plankton, and small fish in their way.

In general, sharks are not picky eaters. Tiger sharks eat just about anything, sometimes including trash, which is where they get the name “garbage cans of the sea”.

Tiger sharks are also one of the only species of shark that regularly eats sea turtles. Without these predators, the population would grow wildly.

While movies like jaws have most people convinced sharks are deadly killers, this is not true. A shark’s diet rarely consists of humans. They may bite, but they do not like the taste.

See also  What Eats Beavers? 11 Animal Predators (Facts)

Sharks also don’t eat all day. In one week, a shark eats about 1-10% of their body weight and when they are digesting food, they won’t hunt for more until the digestion is complete.

How Do Sharks Hunt?

The sharks that feel confident enough to attack young whales do so using all of their seven senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, electroreceptors, and lateral lines.

Sharks use their lateral lines to strengthen their other senses to detect movement in the water. Blacktip, bonnethead, and nurse sharks use their flexible bodies to launch themselves and devour prey in less than ten seconds.

Animals That Eat Whales

Although sharks may struggle to eat whales because of how massive they are, other animals also feast on whales. Sharks commonly look for whale carcasses in the water.

Sharks are predators and natural hunters, but also opportunists, especially for whale meat since it is high in nutrition.

Two things can happen when a whale dies. Sometimes, their bodies directly fall to the bottom of the ocean, and squid feast on the remains. Even lobsters eat the decaying remains of large whales.

Other times, a whale’s body swells with water and floats to the surface, eventually making its way to the coast or shoreline. From the surface, polar bears, sharks, and orca whales consume the whale carcass.

Are Sharks Afraid Of Whales?

Whales and sharks rarely interact in the wild. Sharks typically stay close to the surface to hunt for food, while whales swim in deep waters.

Sharks are afraid of Orca whales since these intelligent whales hunt in large pods. Great White sharks respond to the sight of an Orca whale by swimming away.

See also  8 Animals That Look Like Anteaters (Photos)

Orca whales may actually be the predator of the ocean, even scaring away the large-toothed Great White sharks.

Not only will Great White sharks run away from Orca whales, but studies show they won’t return to their home or hunting grounds for up to a year.

Reasons Why Sharks Are Afraid Of Orca Whales

Sharks have every reason to fear Orca whales as they are the only predator in the sea, other than massive squids, to challenge the fearsome shark.

Orca whales travel, hunt, and live in pods. They are nicknamed ‘killer whales’ and for a good reason! These large, black and white pods have 40 to 56 interlocking teeth and each one is about three inches long.

Pods of Orca whales will target Great White and Tiger sharks to feast only on their hearts and livers. A shark’s liver is rich in fat and oils which increases an Orca whale’s buoyancy.

In Conclusion

To conclude, sharks can eat whales, but they prefer not to hunt large aquatic mammals. Great White sharks are the only sharks with the strength and skills to take down young whales but choose not to.

Instead, it is more common to watch sharks eat a whale’s dead carcass since it is safer and more nutritious.

James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

Recent Posts