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How Much Does a Great White Shark Eat?

It's gotta be enough to maintain 5,000 pounds while traveling over 1,000 miles in a month.

Great white sharks can measure up to 20 feet long and weigh up to 5,000 pounds (more than a minivan). And they may travel over 1,000 miles in a month. Exactly how much does a great white shark eat in order to maintain that bulk while doing all that work? Let's see what the science says.

In 2013, Australian scientists tracked 12 great white sharks at Neptune Islands, where there is a lot of great white shark feeding activity.

how much does great white shark eat Giphy

They tracked the sharks' swimming speeds while they were hunting for seal pups and then calculated how much energy the sharks would be burning.

The scientists concluded that a great white shark weighing 2,000 pounds needed to eat at least 66 pounds of animal blubber to sustain itself for 15 days.

Put another way, a shark of that size needs to eat one seal pup about every three days. A bigger shark would need more.

how much does great white shark eat


What if you had a shark that was getting in on the intermittent fasting trend? He wants to eat three seal pups in one day and be good for the rest of the week. Could he do it?

Probably, yes. Great white sharks can eat a massive percentage of their body weight in a short amount of time. In this 2009 Discovery Channel Shark Week segment, a team put a great white shark's appetite to the test by feeding her tuna after tuna until she was full.

The 15-foot-long female probably weighed about 1,800 pounds and she gobbled up seven whole tunas, totaling 468 pounds, in a matter of minutes.

how much does great white shark eat Giphy

That's over 25 percent of her estimated body weight.

Scientists still know very little about the migration patterns of great whites. But there is a theory that the great whites around Neptune Islands are feasting to gear up for a long migration.

According to the Discovery Channel segment linked above, great whites can slow down their metabolisms so they can travel long distances without needing food.

Add your name right now to ban the trade of shark fins in the U.S. and protect our oceans with Oceana.

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