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What Eats Sharks

What Eats Sharks

Sharks are formidable ocean predators, but even they have animals that prey on them. When exploring the marine food chain, a fascinating question arises – what eats sharks?

Though dominant hunters, sharks do face threats from other apex ocean predators. This article takes a close look at the natural predators of different shark species.

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Shark Predators Table

PredatorPreyHunting Behavior
Killer WhalesGreat white sharks, tiger sharksGroup ambush
Great White SharksSmaller shark species like hammerheadsSolo hunters
Bull SharksBlacktip sharks, lemon sharks, young bull sharksOpportunistic feeding
Tiger SharksSmaller shark speciesGeneralist predator
Sperm WhalesSharksDeep diving
Saltwater CrocodilesSmaller sharks in their territoryAmbush from water
DolphinsTiger sharksGroup hunting
Large FishSharksOpportunistic
OctopusesSmall sharksSurprise attack
HumansVarious shark speciesOverfishing

Killer Whales Are the Most Formidable Predators

Killer whales, also known as orcas, are known to actively hunt great white sharks and other shark species. They attack sharks in coordinated groups, ambushing them and taking them down with their sheer strength and numbers.

Some documented incidents of orcas preying on sharks:

  • Orcas eating great white sharks near the Farallon Islands off California
  • A killer whale pod killing tiger sharks off Hawaii
  • Orcas seen consuming white sharks along South Africa’s coast

Orcas are smart, strategic hunters. Their group ambush technique allows them to prey on even powerful sharks like great whites.

Larger Shark Species Feed on Smaller Sharks

Bigger shark species like great white sharks, tiger sharks and bull sharks eat smaller shark species. Cannibalism is also common among sharks.

Some examples:

  • Great white sharks feed on smaller sharks like hammerheads along with sea lions, seals and other prey.
  • Bull sharks are known to eat blacktip sharks, lemon sharks and even young bull sharks.
  • Tiger sharks have diverse diets and are known to consume a wide variety of prey including smaller shark species.

Sharks lack strong social bonds seen in many mammals. In lean times, some may turn to eating smaller or younger members of their own or related species.

Sharks Face Other Top Ocean Predators

In addition to killer whales, sharks must watch out for other dominant marine hunters:

  • Sperm whales: The deep diving sperm whales feed on sharks, especially in areas with fewer squids.
  • Saltwater crocodiles: Crocodiles readily eat smaller sharks swimming into their territory.
  • Dolphins: Groups of dolphins can prey on lone tiger sharks.
  • Large fish: Tuna, marlins and other big pelagic fish may see sharks as prey.
  • Octopuses: Octopuses have been known to kill small sharks on occasion.

The Most Dangerous Predator – Humans

Humans hunt sharks for their meat, skin, teeth and fins, often in unsustainable numbers. The shark fin soup trade and demand for shark teeth and jaws as souvenirs are depleting many shark species.


While sharks sit at the apex of the marine food web, their position isn’t uncontested. Killers whales, large shark species, sperm whales and saltwater crocodiles are among the rare animals that can prey on sharks.

However, the biggest threat to sharks comes from humans due to unsustainable shark fishing and the consumption of shark products. Conserving shark populations is vital for maintaining balance in ocean ecosystems. The ecosystem impacts of declining shark numbers give critical insights into the creatures that can answer the question – what eats sharks.

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Steve Momot

Steve is an accomplished professional photographer and marketer who specializes in the Fishing, Yacht, and Boating industry. With a strong presence as an influencer and marketing expert in the Marine Industry, he has made a significant impact in the field. Additionally, Steve is the original creator and co-founder of Sportfishtrader. Prior to his career as a marine photographer, he gained extensive experience as a licensed boat and car dealer in South Florida.

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