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Prey Capture in Sharks

Did you know different shark species use different methods of approaching and capturing their prey? When it comes the actual approach, it tends to be much slower than the capture event. (Motta & Huber, 2004). Sharks tend to be somewhat opportunistic feeders, but the ways in which they choose to approach their prey differ. One method of approach involves the shark concealing itself in some way and lying in wait to ambush their prey. (Curio, 1976). Sharks may also stalk their prey before making a sudden assault. (Curio, 1976). Some sharks can even lure their prey toward them, such as the megamouth shark which has bioluminescent tissues on their upper jaw. (Campagno, 1990). Sharks tend to be mainly solitary foragers but some will come together to feed. Blacktip reef sharks and lemon sharks have been seen coraling fish nearshore. (Eibl-Eibesfedlt & Hass, 1959). Once sharks have successfully approached their prey there are a couple different ways in which they can capture it. Ram feeding involves the shark swimming over relatively stationary prey which it engulfs whole. This is the most common form of prey capture in sharks. (Motta & Huber, 2004). Suction feeding is also a common mechanism used by the nurse and bamboo sharks in which a negative pressure is created within the mouth to drive food inward. (Motta & Huber, 2004). Another feeding mechanism, known as continuous filter feeding, involves the continuous open mouth swimming of the shark through plankton patches. (Motta & Huber, 2004). No matter the method of approach or capture, sharks are amazing apex predators and deserve all the respect in the world. 

Post & Photo by: Taylor Cunningham

Taylor Cunningham