13 Stranger Things that Sharks Eat

By AT&T Digital Media Productions editorial team

Sharks have been known to eat just about anything if given the chance--and just about anything can end up in the ocean. Here are the weirdest things ever to come out of a shark's stomach.

13. ANOTHER SHARK

This one’s not that weird, as sharks prey on smaller sharks fairly often. However, in 2013, a fisherman caught a smooth dogfish...that was in the process of being swallowed by a sand tiger shark. By the time they reeled in the catch, the dogfish was completely inside the sand tiger’s mouth—two sharks for the price of one!

In 2016, another sand tiger shark swallowed a houndshark whole, ingesting the smaller fish little by little over a period of 21 hours. This was the culmination of a turf war between the two sharks in a South Korean aquarium—no question who won. It’s a shark-eat-shark world.

 

12. LICENSE PLATES AND TIRES

Tiger sharks are notoriously indiscriminate eaters, with the nickname “garbage can of the sea.” They’ll swallow just about anything, and are frequently found with car parts in their stomachs. Tiger sharks have been found with license plates from almost every U.S. state. They’ve also been known to down a tire every so often.

Unfortunately, increasing ocean pollution means that tiger sharks will accidentally eat more and more garbage over time.

 

11. POLAR BEAR

In 2008, a Greenland shark was found with the remains of a polar bear in its stomach. Makes sense: Greenland sharks inhabit Arctic seas, and polar bears aren’t afraid to dive in. Polar bears often swim across open water in pursuit of seals, another shark delicacy. 

 

10. REINDEER

Someone has it in for Santa. The culprit? Again, a Greenland shark. An almost-completely-intact reindeer was once recovered from a Greenland shark’s stomach. Yep, antlers and all.

 

9. CANNONBALL

In 1823, fishermen in the Caribbean caught a shark with a cannonball in its stomach (must have been tough to reel in). The shark may have gotten caught in the middle of a naval battle and confused the cannonball with a fast-moving fish. 

 

8. BULLDOG ON A LEASH

Keep an eye on your pets! A tiger shark was recently pulled out of Sydney Harbor with a bulldog, leash still attached, in its stomach. Well, most of a bulldog. Time to take down some “Lost Dog” flyers.

 

7. VIDEO CAMERA

Yet again, a tiger shark is to blame. In 2011, a curious tiger shark ate the video camera a shark researcher was using to film it. The camera was still running when the shark chowed down—once recovered, the footage provided a once-in-a-lifetime look at what it’s like to be swallowed by a shark.

 

6. PORTUGUESE MADEIRA WINE

In 1942, fisherman off the coast of France caught a blue shark with exquisite taste. When the fishermen butchered their catch, they found an unopened bottle of prized Madeira wine from Portugal. It can safely be assumed that the French fishermen enjoyed their evening: wine that has been aged underwater actually tastes better, as a different process of osmosis takes place and improves the flavor.

 

5. A BAG OF MONEY

Bank robber apprehended! A tiger shark off the coast of Florida was caught with a bag of cash in its stomach. The money was already half-digested by the shark’s powerful stomach acids, so no one knows how much money was in the bag, who lost it, and whether the shark had any accomplices.

 

4. FUR COAT

 

Maybe it came from the person who lost the giant bag of money?

Actually, multiple fur coats have been found inside shark stomachs, which could mean that the sharks confuse them with sea mammals like seals or otters. Sharks rely heavily on their eyesight to identify prey, which makes them susceptible to food “decoys” like surfboards, buoys, and the occasional coat. 

 

3. CHICKEN COOP WITH CHICKENS

A Florida tiger shark was captured with a whole chicken coop inside. A shark eating chicken isn’t hard to imagine, but this shark just couldn’t wait to unwrap its dinner. The question remains: how did the chicken coop get into the ocean? And at what point within the shark’s digestive system did the chickens, temporarily protected by their coop, “get to the other side?”

 

2. A SUIT OF ARMOR 

In 1554, French physician Guillaume Rondelet published an early guide to aquatic animals. He included an illustration of a great white shark and described a specimen that was captured with an entire suit of armor in its belly—minus the head.

1. A MURDER INVESTIGATION

In 1935, an Australian fisherman caught a live tiger shark and donated it to an aquarium exhibit in Sydney. A few days later, the shark became ill and vomited up a human arm—in front of a crowd, no less. The arm had a tattoo of two boxers in red shorts, and relatives identified it as belonging to James Smith. Smith was a gangster and small-time criminal who had been missing ever since he left on a fishing trip.

Forensic investigators soon determined, however, that the arm hadn’t been bitten off by the shark—it was hacked off with a knife. The case of James Smith went from an accident to a full-on murder investigation. Smith was working as an informant when he disappeared. As a mob snitch, he might have been sent to sleep in the fishes.  

For more shark bites, don’t miss Shark Week, starting Sunday July 23 at 7p on Discovery.

 

Sources: NBC Philadelphia, BBC, Discovery, Sport Diver, The Private Life of Sharks, Smithsonian Magazine, Dictionary of Sydney