Do Sharks Need to Move to Breathe?

Sharks are amazing creatures that live in the oceans and captivate people’s imagination. They have strong bodies and sharp teeth and can swim very fast. But people wonder if sharks can breathe without moving.

Sharks’ Breathing System

The answer is no. Unlike humans, sharks don’t have a diaphragm to help them breathe. Instead, they use a special organ called gills to extract oxygen from water. The gills are on the sides of the shark’s head and have thin filaments with blood vessels. As water flows over the gills, oxygen goes into the shark’s bloodstream, and carbon dioxide comes out.

Why Do Sharks Need to Keep Moving to Breathe

For the gills to work, sharks need water to flow over them all the time. This means they have to keep moving or swimming to keep water moving over their gills. If they stop, the water will become still, and the gills won’t work well, making it difficult for the shark to breathe.

Different Sharks’ Breathing Abilities

Some sharks, like the nurse shark, can use their throat muscles to pump water over their gills, so they don’t have to swim to breathe. But other sharks, like the great white shark, have to keep moving to breathe. Not all sharks swim at the same speed. Some sharks, like the Greenland shark, swim very slowly and can be found lying on the ocean floor. But even these sharks have to move sometimes to breathe.


So, sharks need to move to breathe. They need water to flow over their gills to get oxygen. Sharks have unique adaptations that make them fascinating creatures in the oceans.