Sharks may have a notorious reputation of being predators but scientists at the University of California, Irvine have found a shark that enjoys a bit of salad with its protein. Their study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B., reveal that the bonnethead shark eats seagrass while devouring fish and squid and also digests the plant to get nutrition from it.


The study found that the bonnethead sharks have high levels of enzymes that are used to break down fibre and carbs in seagrass. This is in contrast to the low amount of enzymes that carnivores normally have. The researchers point out that this makes the bonnethead the first omnivorous shark.

A laboratory video shows a small bonnethead shark chomping down a meal that’s 90 percent seagrass and 10 percent squid. This suggests that these sharks are actually omnivorous since it was previously believed that they used to eat the grass unintentionally in shallow areas where they live along the coastlines of the United States, Central, and South America.

Samantha Leigh, the researcher leading this four-year study at the University of California, Irvine, hopes that this discovery will help prevent risk to seagrass ecosystems from climate change. “The fact a highly abundant kind of shark feeds on the grasses is yet another indication of why we need to preserve this vegetation,” she said.

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