Sharks are known for their sharp teeth, powerful jaws, and large size.
They also have a reputation for being aggressive predators, and boast a reputation as some of the largest fish in the ocean, with some species reaching lengths of over 20 feet and weighing up to 2 tons.
But just how much does a shark weigh? We took a closer look!
Sharks: An Overview
Sharks are creatures that have something of a bad reputation, but this is a reputation that may be somewhat unfair and unjustified.
The majority of shark attacks occur when sharks are hungry, injured, or in some way provoked by humans; it is extremely rare for a shark to attack with zero provocation, and this is usually the result of the creature mistaking a human for prey.
The most dangerous type of shark is the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), which can grow to be more than 20 feet long and weigh up to 2 tons.
Great whites are generally found in tropical waters around the world, including the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea.
How Much Do Sharks Weigh?
The average weight of a shark varies depending on its age, sex, diet, environment, and other factors, and these can all play a key role in the weight of a shark.
Some of the main factors that play a part include:
The Age Of A Shark
A shark’s age has a huge impact on its weight. Young sharks tend to weigh less than adult sharks because they haven’t had enough time to put on muscle mass.
Adult sharks tend to weigh more, simply because they have grown larger muscles. This growth occurs naturally throughout a shark’s life cycle, and it continues even after death.
The Sex Of A Shark
There are two major differences between male and female sharks: Size and coloration.
Male sharks tend to be bigger than females, and males often have brighter colors than females.
Males also have longer tails than females, although not always. Females typically have smaller bodies and shorter tails than males.
Shark species vary widely in terms of what they eat, and this will affect their overall size.
Species like tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) feed primarily on crustaceans, while others like nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) feed mainly on small fishes.
These diets also influence the amount of food that each animal consumes, which leads to variations in body size.
Shark weight can also be impacted by the environment in which the shark lives.
For example, if a shark moves from warmer water into colder water, it may lose heat faster than normal, leading to an increase in weight.
If a shark moves from saltwater to freshwater, it may experience problems regulating its blood pressure, which could lead to dehydration and increased weight.
There are several ways that a shark’s size influences its weight. Larger sharks tend to weigh more than smaller ones because they contain more muscle tissue.
Small sharks tend to weigh less because they don’t need as much energy to move around.
As mentioned earlier, temperature plays a big role in the metabolism of a shark. When temperatures drop, sharks use more energy to stay warm.
This means that they gain weight at a slower rate. Conversely, when temperatures rise, sharks spend less time warming themselves up, so they burn fewer calories and therefore lose weight.
What Do Sharks Eat?
Sharks are omnivores, meaning that they eat meat and plants and this can take a number of forms. They usually hunt for prey using their sense of smell and then swallow it whole.
Although some sharks can open their jaws wide enough to catch large fish, most prefer to consume smaller items such as squid, crabs, shrimp, octopuses, and clams.
Some of the main elements in a shark’s diet include:
- Crustaceans – Crustaceans are animals with hard exoskeletons, including lobsters, crabs, shrimps, crayfish, and krill.
- Fish – Fish is one of the most important types of food for many sharks. Most sharks eat mostly small fish, but some sharks specialize in eating certain kinds of fish.
- Mollusks – Mollusks are soft-bodied invertebrates that include snails, slugs, and sea urchins.
- Other Animals – Some sharks eat other animals, such as birds, turtles, mammals, and amphibians.
Sharks also eat plants, algae, and detritus. However, these foods make up only a very small part of their diet.
The most dangerous predator that sharks are likely to encounter are found outside the ocean, and take the form of humans.
Humans kill about 100 million sharks per year, mostly through commercial fishing, and pose an enormous threat to the number of sharks in the wild.
Other Awesome Facts About Sharks
In addition to a varied diet and a range of weight options, there are a number of other amazing, fascinating facts to discover about sharks – here are just a few:
- They Have A Long Lifespan
Although sharks live for only 20 years or so, they have been known to live for over 50 years! The oldest verified shark was a female sand tiger shark named “Lolita” who lived in Florida waters until she died at age 58.
- They Have Sharp Teeth
Shark teeth are made from keratin, which is a protein similar to human hair. Shark teeth grow continuously throughout life, so they never stop growing.
- Their Eyesight Is Excellent
Sharks have excellent eyesight, allowing them to see well underwater even if it is dark.
Sharks are fascinating creatures, and are found all over the world, acting as amongst the largest aquatic predators.
There are over 400 species of sharks, and each has its own unique characteristics, including a wide variety of weights, sizes, and species, each of which can be informed by diet, environment and species of shark.