The biggest shark in the world is not a predator! Study finds whale sharks extract nutrients from algae

The biggest shark in the world is not a predator! The study found that whale sharks extract nutrients from the algae they ingest while hunting small prey.

  • Whale sharks can grow up to 32 feet long and weigh a whopping 41,000 pounds.
  • But a new study shows that huge sharks eat not only animals, but also plants.
  • Whale sharks eat kelp called sargassum while hunting small prey.

At 32 feet long and weighing 41,000 pounds, you’d think the world’s largest shark would be a ferocious predator.

But a new study has shown that whale sharks are not predators and actually extract nutrients from the algae they ingest while hunting small prey.

“It forces us to rethink everything we thought we knew about what whale sharks eat,” said Australian Institute of Marine Science biologist Dr Mark Mikan.

“And, in fact, what they do in Open ocean.’

The discovery makes whale sharks the world’s largest omnivores.

By studying the isotopes in shark tissues, the researchers were also able to study what the animals use for energy and growth.

What is an omnivore?

An omnivore is an organism that feeds on plants and animals.

The term comes from the Latin words omnis meaning “all or all” and vorare meaning “to devour or eat”.

Omnivores play an important role in the food chain, a sequence of organisms that produce energy and nutrients for other organisms.

Each food chain consists of several trophic levels that describe the role of an organism in an ecosystem.

Omnivores usually occupy the third trophic level along with carnivorous predators.

Source: National Geographic.

An omnivore is an organism that feeds on plants and animals.

The term comes from the Latin words omnis meaning “all or all” and vorare meaning “to devour or eat”.

Omnivores play an important role in the food chain, a sequence of organisms that produce energy and nutrients for other organisms.

“On land, all the largest animals have always been herbivores,” Dr. Mikan said.

“In the sea, we have always thought that animals that have become very large, such as whales and whale sharks, feed up a notch up the food chain on shrimp-like animals and small fish.

“It turns out maybe the system of evolution on land and in water isn’t all that different.”

During the study, the team collected samples of possible food sources from Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef, including tiny plankton and large algae.

They then compared the amino acids and fatty acids in the foods with those in whale sharks.

Their analysis revealed that whale shark tissues contain compounds found in sargassum, a type of brown algae that breaks off the reef and floats on the surface.

A new study has found that whale sharks are not predators, but instead extract nutrients from the algae they ingest while hunting small prey.

A new study has found that whale sharks are not predators, but instead extract nutrients from the algae they ingest while hunting small prey.

“We think that over the course of evolution, whale sharks have developed the ability to digest some of this sargassum that enters their intestines,” Dr. Mikan said.

“So our vision of whale sharks coming to Ningala just to feast on these little krill is only half the story. In fact, they also eat a fair amount of algae there.”

By studying the isotopes in shark tissues, the researchers were also able to study what the animals use for energy and growth.

“Something like a whale shark that swims in the water with its mouth open is going to swallow a lot of different things,” said CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere Biogeochemist Dr. Andy Revill.

“But you don’t know how much of that was used by the animal and how much just went to the other end.”

An analysis of the whales’ feces showed that although they consumed krill, they did not digest much of it.

The findings mean whale sharks have officially dethroned the Kodiak bear as the world’s largest omnivore.

WHAT ARE WHALE SHARKS AND ARE THEY IN DANGER?

The number of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) has more than halved in the past 75 years, with most of the deaths attributed to legal and illegal fishing, being caught in fishing gear and boat collisions.

No one knows how many of them are left, but according to rough estimates, their number is in the tens of thousands around the world.

Fishing for large, slow-moving sharks is particularly prevalent in China and Oman, although the species is recovering somewhat in the Western Hemisphere, as well as in India, the Philippines and Taiwan thanks to legal protection.

Although comparable in size to whales, whale sharks are sharks.  They typically grow larger than a double-decker bus, from 6 to 16 meters (20 to 52 ft) and over 20 tons.

Although comparable in size to whales, whale sharks are sharks. They typically grow larger than a double-decker bus, from 6 to 16 meters (20 to 52 ft) and over 20 tons.

They feed by catching huge amounts of tiny plankton and small fish from the water, especially near the surface and in warmer waters.

They typically grow larger than a double-decker bus, from 6 to 16 meters (20 to 52 ft) and over 20 tons.

But as filter feeders, huge whale sharks are only dangerous to plankton, fish eggs, and the tiny fish they gnaw on.