While the great white shark is on the top of the food chain, the predator isn't the largest fish in the sea. But when it comes time to pick its next meal, this predator doesn't discriminate. In fact, it has no problem with snacking on even larger sharks — more specifically, the largest of them all, the whale shark.
Dr. Michael Newbrey from Columbus State University in Geogia identified bones as belonging to a whale shark that were found in the stomach of an almost 15-foot-long great white. According to the vertebrae found, it is suggested that the whale shark was much larger then its predator, clocking in at about 27 feet long. But size has nothing on a great white, which uses its razor-sharp serrated teeth to rip into the flesh of its food.
While there have been reports — which have not been confirmed — of great whites attacking juvenile whale sharks, finding the bones suggests that the diets of great whites may include adult whale sharks.
"White sharks will chew just about anything they can get in their mouth," Newbrey told New Scientist.
The great white was caught 50 years ago off the coast of Western Australia, at a location where sharks often munch on dead whales.
However, researchers can't know for sure whether this whale shark was already dead before it became the meal or if the great white attacked it alive. Either way, the beasts of the ocean are known to scavenge on dead whales, so it would only make sense that adult whale sharks would also be on the menu.
Published in the journal Marine Biodiversity, this finding is interesting because great whites are known not to prey on animals that are significantly larger than themselves.
The diet of the great white continues to be studied because it remains mysterious to researchers. It's believed that their diets consist of sea lions, seals, otters, sea turtles, fish and whales such as belugas.
They do not chew their food, but rather tear pieces that are swallowed whole. The sharks tend to enjoy the blubber of whales, which is not found on the whale shark. This may also suggest that they instead of targeting whale sharks, they simply just take advantage of the meal without having to work for it.
The bones can help researchers learn more about the wild animal.
Source: New Scientist
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