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Great white sharks
Date:4/10/2013

tudy also found that sharks showed an initial preference for feeding on the whale's fluke before moving on to feed on the rest of the carcass. The team also found that while scavenging on whales, they ceased hunting and feeding on seals, one of their primary natural prey.

"While scavenging on the whale, the sharks clearly showed a size-based pecking order," said Fallows. "The biggest sharks came right in, targeting areas of highest blubber content, while smaller sharks fed on areas with less blubber or kept their distance from the whale, mostly scavenging on pieces of blubber that drifted away from the carcass."

The paper reveals how the social and size structure of sharks at the carcass appeared to be influenced by environmental patterns. "The cues, such as the oils, emanating from this pulse of food are likely attracting much larger sharks over 4.5 meters from long distances to scavenge," said Gallagher. "These data provide some credence to the hypothesis that large white sharks may be swimming known ocean corridors looking for dead, dying, or vulnerable whales."

"By attracting many large white sharks together to scavenge, we suspect that the appearance of a whale carcass can play a role in shaping the behaviors, movements, and the ecosystem impacts of white sharks" said Hammerschlag. "These patterns may shed some light into the ecology of this often studied - yet still highly enigmatic - marine predator."


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Contact: Alexandra Bassil
a.bassil@miami.edu
305-284-1092
University of Miami
Source:Eurekalert

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