What Do Great White Sharks Eat?

Great white sharks are some of the most feared residents of the world’s oceans.

What Do Great White Sharks Eat?

These majestic creatures are deadly apex predators famous for their speed and strength in the water – but what exactly do great white sharks eat?

Don’t worry – we’ve got the answers to all your questions right here! In this guide, we’ll take you through the ins and outs of a great white shark’s diet, from what great whites eat to how they hunt and catch their prey.

So let’s get started, shall we?

What Do Great White Sharks Eat?

A great white shark’s favorite foods are seals and large fish. Fully-grown great whites primarily hunt species such as earless seals and sea lions.

Great Whites also hunt and eat many species of fish (including tuna, rays, and even other sharks), as well as other aquatic species like dolphins and large crustaceans.

Smaller and younger great white sharks tend to avoid larger prey that poses too much of a challenge to hunt, and will stick to smaller fish species for their food.

While great white sharks are typically solo hunters, they can also gather in groups to take down larger prey.

Groups of great whites can easily take down tougher prey such as whales and large fish, which they then divide between each other.

As apex predators, great whites will eat pretty much anything that’s worth the effort to hunt and catch.

This means that they can have a pretty carried diet depending on what food is available, and they have even been known to catch and eat sea birds like gulls along with penguins and sea turtles, all of which are outside of their normal diets.

Do Great Whites Eat People?

Despite what films like Jaws and The Shallows might tell you, great white sharks aren’t bloodthirsty monsters that hunt humans for food or sport.

In fact, humans rank very low on a great white’s list of favorite foods. 

Shark attacks are incredibly rare – there are less than 100 shark attacks each year, and almost half of these are provoked in some way.

If a great white does attack a person, it’s rarely in search of food; instead, it’s typically a result of the shark confusing the person for their usual prey of seals or out of desperation.

Great whites don’t have the best eyesight, so a person swimming or paddling on a surfboard can look a lot like a seal or turtle in the water.

Great whites don’t actively hunt down people for food, and they don’t actually like the taste of human meat – this is why most shark attacks involve a single bite.

So while it’s still not a good idea to swim in shark-infested waters, humans aren’t on the top of a great white’s menu.

How Much Does A Great White Shark Eat In A Day?

How Much Does A Great White Shark Eat In A Day?

So now that we know what sorts of things a great white shark eats, let’s take a look at how much food a great white needs in a day.

When a great white shark feeds, it eats anywhere between 1-3 percent of its total body weight.

Depending on the shark’s size, this can be up to 50lbs of food in every meal!

However, great whites don’t normally eat every day, instead hunting once or twice a week.

Over the course of a year, this translates to over 11 tons of food! Just for comparison, the average person will eat around half a ton of food annually.

Because of a great white’s size and strength, they need to wolf down these massive meals to sustain their bulky frames.

How Do Great Whites Hunt Their Prey?

With how much a great white needs to eat, it’s no surprise that they’re incredible hunters.

As apex predators, great white sharks use their immense strength and speed to catch and kill their prey with ease.

One of a great white’s greatest weapons is its sharp teeth.

Great white sharks have up to 300 teeth in total, and each triangular tooth is serrated and incredibly sharp.

Because of the shark’s wide gaping mouth, a bite with these teeth easily tears away large chunks from its prey – as a result, the prey often dies from blood loss and has little chance of escape.

The great white’s teeth aren’t its only weapon, however; on top of their incredible strength, speed, and razor-sharp teeth, great whites also have a keen sense of smell that can detect a single drop of blood in the water from more than half a kilometer away.

This lets them track their prey over large distances, and makes up for their less-than-effective eyesight.

Because of their great hunting skills, it’s easy for great whites to catch the prey they need to satisfy their massive appetites.

When a great white catches its prey, it uses its powerful jaws to tear away large chunks of its prey and swallows them whole.

They generally attack quickly, using a hit-and-run technique; the shark will swim in fast, take a bite out of its prey, then swim away before repeating.

When groups of great whites work together to take down a larger target such as a whale they will take turns to take a bite out of them, overwhelming their prey with constant attacks.

Overall, great white sharks are incredibly efficient predators that can take down most prey with little-to-no effort.

And when a group of great whites work together, there’s practically nothing that can stand (or swim!) against them.

Final Thoughts 

Great white sharks are opportunistic apex predators, and they’ll eat pretty much any prey that is worth the effort to catch.

If they’re desperate for food, a great white will eat almost anything they can catch; with that said, seals and large fish are at the top of their menus.

But while great whites (and sharks in general) are fearsome hunters, attacks against humans are rare.

If you’re swimming in the ocean and there have been reports of sharks in the area, it’s always best to be careful and play it safe – sharks might not typically hunt or eat humans, but you definitely don’t want to come face-to-face with a hungry great white!

Mikayla Adams

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