Bone Crunchers: Do Sharks Eat Bones?

do sharks eat bones

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Sharks are some of the most unique animals in our oceans. They have a fierce reputation that is often misunderstood and have some of the most effective senses in the animal kingdom.

There are over 500 shark species living in our oceans today ranging from big to small. Some are top apex predators such as the Great White, and some are harmless herbivores such as the Bonnethead shark.

Whilst sharks may have a bone-crushing reputation that often precedes them, many people still find themselves asking “do sharks eat bones?

YES, sharks do eat bones. Some species have razor-sharp teeth that cut through bone like butter, as well as powerful stomach acid that can easily dissolve bones. That said, some bones may be regurgitated or digested depending on their size.

Do Sharks Really Eat Bones?

Sharks are opportunistic feeders that will eat just about anything they can, and yes, that does include bones.

Many species of shark are carnivorous and feed on a variety of fish, crustaceans, mammals, and even other smaller shark species.

They have strong stomach acid that can break down bones easily, especially the small bones that are found in fish.

That said, some species of shark will feed on mammals, such as seals, sea lions, and even whales.

These bones can be MUCH bigger and may end up being regurgitated due to the shark not being able to process them.

Can Sharks Digest Bones?

YES, sharks can digest bones, but this largely depends on the density as well as the size of the bones that the shark consumes.

Small bones that are found in fish are generally digested easily, but larger bones that are found in marine mammals can be harder for the shark to digest and many need to be regurgitated.

Sharks have incredibly strong hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes that break down food as it travels through the digestive tract.

The bigger the bones, the longer it’s going to take for the shark’s body to process it.

In most cases, sharks have a slow digestive system which means that there’s plenty of time for the bones to be broken down whilst traveling through the shark’s system.

This gives enough time for bones to be absorbed, essentially turning them to mush thanks to the strong stomach acid that sharks have.

The whole digestion process for sharks can take as long as 72 hours, much longer than humans, and ensuring the shark makes the most out of every meal.

If something makes its way to the digestive system that the shark can’t process, the shark will clear it out by vomiting or regurgitating it back into the ocean.

Sharks have an amazing way of doing this as they quite literally turn their stomach inside out to remove food that they can’t process.

It’s known as “gastric evasion”, but it’s just a fancy way of saying puking your guts out! Literally!

Sharks are scavengers that will often overeat just about anything and everything, so this process helps to clean the shark’s stomach out before they swallow its stomach back up and it returns to its normal position.

Can Sharks Bite Through Bones?

Sharks vary in size, and so do their teeth. The smallest shark teeth are only around 1.2cm in height, whilst the largest shark teeth are in excess of 17.7cm!

Great white sharks have a truly jaw-dropping set of gnashers. They have more than 300 serrated, triangular, razor-sharp teeth that allow them to rip their prey to shreds.

These sharps are top predators in the ocean, and they feed on marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and even whales.

The teeth of a Great white are designed to pierce through flesh and help the sharks to make quick work of their prey.

Coupled with a set of teeth that are capable of cutting through just about anything, these sharks also have a bite force of up to 1.8 tonnes!

YES, sharks can bite through bones. Many species of sharks such as the Bull shark, Tiger shark, and Great white shark can bite through bone like a hot knife through butter.

Do Sharks Like Eating Bones?

Bones are not the intended food source for sharks. They gobble down bones with the flesh of their prey as they have no way to separate the two.

Unlike humans, sharks have no way of removing the flesh from bone, so they’re left with no other choice than to eat the bones as well if they want to catch a meal.

The good news is that sharks are able to eat and digest bones, and any bones that are too large for the shark will simply be vomited back up.

As mentioned above, they have a remarkable way of vomiting their stomachs up and turning them inside out, removing anything unwanted which may include large undigestable bones.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a clear answer to “do sharks eat bones“, hopefully, you have a newfound respect for these incredible animals.

Sharks can and do eat bones. They have strong stomach acid that is able to break down the bones over the shark’s long digestion period.

Small bones that come from fish and other small animals are easily digested, but bones from marine mammals such as seals may not be digested well and ultimately may be regurgitated.

Sharks have been widely misunderstood for decades due to mainstream media and films like “JAWS” portraying them in a negative light.

They are not the man-eating killers they are portrayed to be, and instead are much more interested in hunting fish and prey that is full of meaty flesh, not bones!

There is much we are yet to learn about these amazing animals and how they operate in the oceans, so I thank you for coming to this article to learn more about these animals.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed your time here, feel free to stick around to learn more about sharks and other marine life that we discuss here.

Until next time.