Everything from tiny plant to Whales!
There are so many different species of sharks, so of course there's a huge range of things on the menu.
Let's take a look at some of our sharks and some of the items on their food menu. In other pages in this section we'll learn about WHY animals eat other animals and we'll learn the names of the characters we often just call "Lunch"
First of all though, its a fact, its the way nature is, some animals eat other animals which eat other animals and so on until you get to animals that eat plants and the plants make energy from the sun directly. So ultimately food is about the transfer of energy - just like gassing up a car (filling it with Petrol) to give it energy.
Let's take a look at a few of my Friends and see some of the things they eat....
Its hard to really put all these sharks into simple boxes because as they get bigger they eat so many more different things. So take this as just a rough guide to types of sharks and what they eat. We'll get more detailed in the shark guide when I write it.
Remember Auger, you will if you've already looked at "Friends of SharkyJones", he's a Whale Shark (Rhincodon Typus), the biggest fish in the sea and its thought the biggest fish ever to live. It's thought he can grow up to 18m / 60ft, though this is rare today, 6-9m / 15-30ft is more common.
I Eat :("Plink")Phytoplankton("Plank")Zoo Plankton
Although he's the biggest fish in the sea, he has a close contender for the title, below are two pictures of Max! He's the second largest fish in the sea and is only a foot or two different in maximum size.
Max is a Basking shark (scientific name Cetorhinus Maximus), unlike Auger, he's found in cold water such as off the coast of California, NE USA (such as Maine, Massachussets, New York etc.) and All around the British Isles and North Sea, actually thats one of the places that they can be seen most often. Many people flock to the Isle of Man, Ireland and Wales to dive with Basking Sharks in summer.
Both sharks are some of the biggest creatures in the sea, yet just like Whales they eat plankton, some of the smallest creatures in the sea.
Well what is plankton ? Plankton are tiny creatures that mostly live in the surface layers of the sea. Plankton is a term given to millions of different types of animals and plants that float in the ocean. Some plankton can be microscopic and others can be literally huge (Jellyfish are plankton). There are broadly two types of plankton :
Phytoplankton - These are tiny PLANTS that live near the surface of the water. This character is called Plink, he's a piece of phytoplankton, he's based around what a plant cell looks like, we'll learn more about these guys in "Who do my friends try to eat"
Zooplankton - These are ANIMALS ranging from tiny up to the size of jellyfish. This character is called "Plank", he's a piece of zooplankton.
Both Max here and Auger swim through the world's oceans, when they find areas with lots of plankton they swim around with their mouths wide open, filtering out all the plankton they can eat.
You can see Max with his mouth open, Auger does similar, but his mouth doesn't open so far, instead he has a very wide mouth and head so he can cover as wide an area as possible.
Another large animal that eats plankton and feeds in a similar way is the Manta ray, a relative of sharks!
Small Fish, Crustacean and Cephalopod Eaters
(cephalopods - Squid, Octopi and cuttlefish)
This is Gingly, he's a nurse shark (Ginglymostoma Cirratum), he lives on the bottom around reefs and in bays and lagoons.
He eats small fish and crustaceans (crabs, lobsters, shrimp etc.), he hunts mostly at night, his mouth is right at the end of hid head, this lets him get his mouth right up to holes in the reef where a little fish might be hiding, then he sucks in a load of water into his mouth, sucking the fish at the same time.
This Art Print At AllPosters.com
This is Donti, a Californian hornshark. He's another bottom dweller he eats crabs, lobsters and shrimp
This is Gabe, he's a Pacific angel shark, although he looks like a ray, he's actually a shark, he hides in the silt on the bottom, waiting for crabs, small fish, shrimp and small horn sharks like Donti, to come along.
This Poster At AllPosters.com
Yep, that's right, he tries to eat donti, one of my characters tries to kill and eat the other ones, why ? Because that's what they eat sometimes, most animals eat other animals which eat other animals which eat plants, its called the food chain, we'll learn more about it later. However most of these guys don't give up without a fight, they have evolved (or been given) defenses to help them avoid becoming lunch, in Donti's case he has spines, so here in my world Gabe may try to eat Donti, but he's not going to succeed (just like Tom and Jerry)
We'll learn more about the food chain in the page "The Food Chain" found in the "What" Menu
This is Tri, he's a white tip reefshark, he spends much of his time on the bottom and much time swimming above the reef, unlike Gingly who spends almost all his time on or near the bottom. They eat similar food, small fish, squid, cuttlefish, shrimp, crabs, lobsters etc. Tri is very thin and flexible, he can hunt in the small nooks and crannies of the reef getting his head right in there!
This is what Andrea and Antonella Ferrari have to say in their excellent guide "Sharks" published by firefly - "During the day it often rests motionless on the bottom or inside a crevice or cave, either alone or in small groups, or swims lazily along the reef. At night it is more active , preying on sleeing bony fisher, crustaceans (shrimp, crabs etc) and cephalopods (squid, octopi and cuttlefish), which it pusues with great vigor, oftenwriggling its way without injury through the gaps in the madreporic formations and even breaking off bits of coral to get at its victims"
Fish (Medium Sized) Eaters
These are a bunch of other reefsharks :
Albi, a silvertip reef sharkAmbly, a grey reef sharkLimby, a blacktip shark
These guys eat free swimming fish, usually occuring in schools, like sardines, herrings and anchovies. They will also take medium sized reef fish and some of them on open water fish, such as jacks, bonito, mackeral, snapper, grouper and even tuna.
They will also eat Squid too, especially the blue shark which at certain times in the year off the pacific coast gather in large numbers to feast on schools of squid. Some will even eat smaller sharks of other or their own species.
Fish (Medium to large Size) Eaters
This is Lew (sphyrna lewini), he's a Scallopped hammerhead, he is the most common of the hammerhead sharks, the biggest is the great hammerhead.
Both eat bony fishes such as sardines and herring as well as small sharks and cephalopods. The great hammerhead which looks very similar but is bigger (4-5m / 13-16 ft. as opposed to 2.5-2.7m / 8-9ft) eats large bony fish, small sharks, but it seems to particularly like eating Stingrays. It uses its electrical sensors in its head to find the stingrays buried in the sand, having a wide head its electrical sensors are spread over a wide area, a bit like a metal detector.
Doctor Samuel Gruber, the guy who first introduced me to real sharks, originally wrote a paper on this behaviour, he noticed Great Hammerheads sensing for stingrays with their electrical sensors and then using their broad head to also pin the stingray down while he takes a bite out of its fins, immobilising the ray, the shark would then leave the ray to die, then eat it.
Fish (Large) and Marine Mammal Eaters
This is Crunch, he's a Great White Shark, he eats large fish and marine mammals.
Great whites are born about 4-6ft, when they are young they start out eating medium sized fish like Jacks, Snappers and mackerel. They teeth start out pointy like the teeth of other fish eating sharks, suited to grabbing and holding fish. As they grow their teeth become more triangular and serrated for tearing chunks out of firm flesh like seals and Tuna.
So Great Whites eat - Seals, Sea Lions, Penguins, Dolphins, Small Whales, Tuna and other sharks (there's a great photo of a Great white eating a 6ft Dusky Shark as it was being landed on a boat).
It largely depends on where in the world they are. In the mediterranean sea where there are no seals they eat Tuna and Dolphins in open water, sneaking up on them from below using their two tone colouration (called countershading) to help them sneak up. From above the dark blue on top of the shark merges with the dark bottom or the dark of the deep sea.
Have teeth will travel - Eats just about everything above!
|This is Chomp, he's a Tiger shark, he has specially adapted teeth that let him eat just about anything edible, though he prefers to eat Dead Whales, Large Fish and Turtles, his teeth are so specialised he can bite right through the shell of a turtle!! Tiger sharks will try all sorts of things, even bits of metal and a car number (license) plate has been found in their stomachs, they'll also each other sharks.||
One interesting thing you can see from all the above, they are all adapted in certain ways to eat different foods e.g. Their body type is adapted to live in a certain area and then eat the food in that area (bottom, midwater, surface, reef, openwater), their teeth are adapted for certain foods (Some have long thin teeth for grasping fish, some have many small crushing teeth for crushing shells of crabs and other sharks have triangular serrated teeth for biting through tough flesh of large fish, reptiles and mammals.
We'll look at these specialist adaptations later on in the "How" section, we'll also look at Shark Teeth on their own later.