Do Sharks Eat Octopus? (And vice versa) UPDATE 2022

Sharks and octopuses are vital parts of marine life and if one or the other would die out, the oceans would never be the same again. In the cut-throat sea life, many wonder – do sharks eat octopus and vice versa. So let’s dive in and find the answer.

Do sharks eat octopus? Sharks prefer prey that is easier to catch and handle than an octopus but, yes, sometimes they do eat octopuses. If the sharks can find the camouflaged octopus that’s hiding on the seabed, they will trash it violently until it can swallow the whole thing. You can even see the octopus’ ink coming out of the shark’s gills.

The video below is fascinating and shows exactly how nature can be cruel sometimes most of the time. But as you’ll see later – the tables can turn around on sharks when they become octopus’ prey.

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Table of Contents

What eats octopus?

What eats octopus?

Poor octopuses are food for a lot of different animals, including humans. Dolphins, eels, sperm whales, sea otters, seals, fish and many birds will actively hunt them down and in the case of dolphins – even beat them up before eating them.

The reason is that octopus’ arms are dangerous even after the head is incapacitated. Two-thirds of its neurons are in the arms, and the octopus uses those neurons to try to escape whatever is trying to eat it. And that is a serious choking hazard for dolphins and Koreans.

Why Koreans? Because their tradition is to eat small octopuses raw and alive by trying to swallow them whole. Is it dangerous? Sure. And although some people die each year because of it – this horrifying tradition isn’t going away anytime soon.

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Do octopuses eat themselves?

Believe it or not, sometimes octopuses do start to eat their own limbs which causes them to die and – it might be contagious. Octopuses that started eating themselves were committing an act of so-called autophagy. When other octopuses in the aquarium came in contact with the octopus doing autophagy, they as well started doing it.

Scientists are still baffled by this phenomenon but believe that an infection of the nervous system might be the culprit. Let’s just hope that they don’t infect the workers in the aquarium.

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Do octopuses eat sharks?

The alpha predator has to be careful around one particular species of octopus – The giant Pacific octopus also known as the North Pacific giant octopus. It is a known shark-killer that uses the element of surprise to catch sharks with its tentacles.

These giant Pacific octopuses can weigh up to 150 pounds and typically have short life spans, living 3 to 5 years until reproducing.

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Do sharks eat squid?

Yes, squid is an important part of shark’s diets and one of their favorite prey. The tiger shark, the scalloped hammerhead shark, and the smooth hammerhead shark all love to prey on squid.

Squid mostly have an annual life cycle, growing fast and dying soon after spawning. They have a key role in the food chain and are important prey for predators other than sharks as well, mostly sea birds, seals, and whales.

For example, a sperm whale can eat 700 to 800 squid in a single day.

Do sharks eat whales?

Sharks are mainly opportunists – hunting for easy prey that is smaller in size than they are. Whales, whales are big – very big. But baby sharks are smaller and less experienced so a group of sharks could take them down. A group of dusky sharks, for instance, each 2 to 3 meters long, were observed attacking (and killing) a baby humpback whale that was some 4 meters long.

So, although sharks usually don’t attack whales, they do feast on their carcasses when available. It’s a buffet they’re not going to miss.

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Do sharks eat dolphins?

Although dolphins are not the easiest prey to catch, some shark species do eat dolphins. Sharks’ best chance to take down a dolphin is when it’s unaware or in a blind spot. If the attack is not successful, dolphins will fiercely defend themselves or quickly swim away. And they can swim faster than most shark species. That’s why sharks usually attack smaller and younger dolphins.

This tactic can come back and bite them in the ass though – as they might get attacked by a large group of pissed-off dolphins. Maybe it’s best for them to stick to fish and surfers.

Do sharks eat dolphins
Do sharks eat dolphins?

Are sharks omnivores?

Until recently (2018), the answer to this question would be a resounding no, but now after a study by US researchers, one species of sharks – the bonnethead shark, abundant in the shallow waters of the eastern Pacific, the Western Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico is an avid muncher of seagrass. The seagrass contributes to as much as 60% of their diet.

We might soon rewrite textbooks because, at the moment, there are few suspicions that other shark species have broadened their diets to consume plants as well as meat making them omnivores. But for now, the bonnethead shark is the first known omnivorous species of shark.

The bonnethead shark or shovelhead (Sphyrna tiburo) is a small member of the hammerhead shark genus Sphyrna that lives off the American coast, in regions where the water is usually warmer than 70 °F (21 °C). They swim in small groups of five to 15 individuals, although schools of hundreds or even thousands have been reported. They are among the most negatively buoyant of marine vertebrates.

Do sharks eat seals
Do sharks eat seals?

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What do sharks typically eat?

Sharks are such a diverse species that it’s hard to generalize what they eat. And although there isn’t a blanket answer, sharks will mostly eat fish, crustaceans, and squid. Whale sharks, megamouth sharks, and basking sharks filter feed on plankton. The basking sharks filter 528,000 gallons of water each hour, and extract only 4.5 pounds (2 kg) of food!

Other large sharks have a taste for sea mammals like seals, dolphins, sea lions, and even sea birds. Tiger sharks treat the sea like a buffet, eating turtles, snakes, gas canisters, and even license plates. Maybe we should send them to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch 😉

What do sharks eat
What do sharks eat?

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So, to conclude, sharks do on occasion eat octopuses although their favorite foods are fish, crustaceans, and squids. One powerful species of octopus, the giant Pacific octopus, turned the tables against sharks and has been seen eating them, which is pretty amazing and has captivated scientists across the globe.