Do Sharks Chew Their Foods?

Many times, when you see sharks in movies or television shows, they devour food carelessly. Some other times, you read in books that sharks eat without concern. And, in your mind, you feel convinced that their teeth are at work. However, “Do Sharks Chew Their Foods?”.

Answering the question “do sharks chew their foods?” No, sharks do not chew their food. These creatures use their teeth to chew off large chunks from larger prey and then swallow. Or, for some species, their teeth serve to saw their prey apart before swallowing. Hence, sharks swallow their food but do not chew them.

They way sharks feed is quite interesting and fearful. Of course, imagine a great white shark open its mouth wide exposing the teeth, frightful right?

Well, there is more to sharks and how they eat. More so, now you know that sharks do not chew their foods.

Since Sharks Do Not Chew Their Foods, What Do They Do?

Sharks usually have plenty of teeth. Consequently, you would expect them to chew meat from bigger sea animals and mammals. But this is not so.

Sharks however deadly killers and sadistic hunters do not solely hunt for big animals and sea mammals. Even when they do, they do not chew their meats.

Their feeding method involves them chewing off large chunks from bigger animals and preys. That is to say, sharks bite sized chunks that they can swallow from larger prey. And, for the smaller prey, they just swallow them whole.

However, some species of sharks do “chew” their foods in a way. Consider sharks that stay at the bottom of the sea that feeds on smaller prey with shells.

These sharks use their specialized teeth to crush the shells and then suck up all the “tasty and spicy” meat. You can consider this as “chewing”, though not in the strict sense.

What Does Shark Eat?

Most shark species are deadly hunters, dangerous, and fast at attacking. These species commonly make prey out of anything that they come across and in contact with within the sea.

Though, there are basic foods on the shark menu. The interesting thing is that they are not what we commonly assume them to be.

Most sharks feed on smaller fishes and invertebrates. Meanwhile, some of the larger sharks eat sea mammals like seals and sea lions. Some also feed on animals with shells, using their teeth to break the shell before sucking up the meat.

But, as creatures with a voracious appetite, they swallow also inanimate things such as clothes, jewelry, rubbers, etc. These may be part of ship wreckage or sea constructions by humans.

Anyways, we should know that sharks aren’t tidy or neat eaters. That is why they would greedily swallow most of the things that come their way.

Sharks are of different species and what they eat differs. But the truth is that most sharks are carnivorous and efficient predators. Few others are filter feeders that feed on planktons.

For sharks that hunt big-sized animals, their specialized teeth allow them to tear off bite-sized chunks off of their prey. Afterward, they swallow the chunk before taking another bite.

Sharks have large mouth size and many teeth. Therefore, it is easier for them to feed on prey that is bigger than their mouths.

Of course, they get to tear chunks of flesh before they swallow. This is unlike the bony fish that does not have the kind of sharp and cutting teeth. Hence, would choke on any larger food they try to swallow.

Do Sharks Eat Humans?

Sharks do not eat or hunt humans. Humans are not on the menu of sharks; though there are records of shark attacks on humans. The reasons for those attacks are mostly vivid and clear.

Sharks attack humans out of curiosity or confusion. For instance, in the cases of sharks that swim to shallow waters where humans swim or surf.

They see things like flashy colors, jewelry, clothes, brightly colored swimsuits, blood from open wounds. Or, it could be humans splashing in the water. All these can attract the attention of sharks.

Hence, they may try to investigate which could lead to an accidental attack. Once they figure out that you are not on their menu, they just spit you out and swim away.

Someone said to me that the seas and beaches scare her. She thinks sharks are lying in wait for humans to come in to swim so they can attack. Or, just make water splash with their legs so the sharks can claim the legs of those causing them disturbance.

This caused me to table the effects of television shows showcasing sharks to be a human killer on people. I made researches to let her see that sharks do not hunt humans. Therefore, she has nothing to fear.

Some movies and television shows presented sharks to be so deadly they can’t stand the sight of humans. They’re just exaggerated facts about sharks.

Out of the many species of sharks, as much as more than 400 species, only about a dozen have been involved in attacks on humans.

The Irony

In the actual sense, sharks like every other creature, have more to fear from humans than humans do them.

Humans are the ones who hunt sharks for their meat, internal organs, skin, and fins. They use these to make products such as shark fin soup, lubricants, and leather.

Do Sharks Swallow Food Without Taking in Water?

Sharks live in water – a large body of water. Therefore, it is expected that while they eat, water goes in through their mouth.

You’d then ask the question; how do sharks eat with the water that goes through their mouth?

Sharks like every other fish in the sea have gills that help them in respiration. Through those gills, these sharks can expel water that goes into their mouth.

So, while sharks eat or swallow food, they take in water but then some go out through the gill openings. This takes place as part of their respiratory process.

Some species of sharks just open their mouth wide and suck in a huge mouthful of water alongside prey/food. Then through their gills, they expel the water, filtering in the source of the food usually plankton.

Examples of such species are the megamouth shark, the whale shark, and the basking shark which are filter feeders.

How Long Does A Shark Need Before the Next Meal?

Sharks are animals with very slow metabolism just like snakes. As a result, it takes time for the food they eat to digest.

This makes it possible for them to stay up to a month or two before the next meal. While this depends on the amount of food they eat, the shark species also matters.

Hence, smaller foods mean they would have to eat again soon while the larger ones take a longer time to digest. When the food digests, the shark conserves that energy into its liver.

Energetic and metabolically intense species of sharks have a surprisingly slow rate of energy consumption. The great white shark for instance has a high need for food and energy. This is because of its unique physiology.

Therefore, the great white shark still needs to eat 3 percent of its body weight per day. Whenever the shark is just cruising around, it uses 0.2 calories of energy per kilogram of body weight every hour. Humans use eight times much energy per unit of body weight.

Do Sharks Regurgitate?

Sharks regurgitate as a way to shove off attackers or to remove undigested foods from their bodies.

When under predator attacks, sharks can turn their stomachs inside out and vomit their latest meal. They do this in a bid to prank predators which ends up eating the vomit instead of the shark. Sly, right? Well, they don’t call it cunning, they call it survival.

On the other hand, some sharks that are gluttonous vomit to free up space so that they can eat more food.

Meanwhile, others puke when they are in danger or super stressed. For instance, when pulled into a boat for tagging or caught by a fishing line.

Sharks do what is called “gastric or stomach eversion”. This means that a shark when it wants or needs to take out what’s in its belly could vomit its stomach with the contents.

They do this every once in a while, as a means of cleansing their stomach, ridding it of things that are desirable. For example, things they had gluttonously swallowed like coal, oil, paintings, feathers, debris, and every other thing that they couldn’t digest.

And, here’s the most amusing part, “stomach eversion” happens just in a matter of seconds and the shark can usually swallow the belly back.

Last Thoughts

This page clears the air for those asking “if sharks chew their foods”, “What do sharks eat?”, “Do sharks eat humans?”, “Do sharks swallow food without taking in the water?” and other related questions.
In the end, we found answers to all the questions. Specifically, we found out sharks do not chew their foods. Instead, they bite off meats in chunks and swallow.