Salmon sharks are opportunistic feeders. They consume a wide variety of prey including salmon, squid, rockfish, pollock, herring, capelin, sablefish, mackerel, sculpin, tomcod, daggerteeth, lantern fishes, pomfret, shrimp, lancet fish, spiny dogfish sharks, arrowtooth flounder and sea otters. PREDATORY CHARACTERISTICS: Salmon sharks are equipped with good vision and sense of smell to aid in locating and attacking prey. Another well-developed sense is their ability to detect weak electromagnetic fields that are emitted by the muscles of swimming fish and other prey. Sharks have a number of large pores, or channels, in their snouts that are used to detect these weak electrical fields. Sharks’ “sixth sense” is so acute as to allow them to track their prey by following the wake the prey leaves in the water. Muscles work more efficiently when warm. Most fish lose their internal heat to the surrounding water. A salmon shark’s warm-bloodedness is achieved by countercurrent heat exchange in which heat produced by internal muscle activity is used to warm the oxygenated blood returning from the gills. Salmon sharks benefit from warm-bloodedness and more efficient muscles by being able to reach higher swimming speeds. Salmon sharks also are equipped with several rows of moderately large, smooth-edged teeth. These are used to grasp and tear their prey into bite-sized pieces. Much of the salmon shark’s prey is taken in deep water. However, some salmon sharks will move into shallow bays and the mouths of salmon streams to pursue salmon that are preparing to spawn. The sharks concentrate their efforts in these hot spots, and as many as 1,000 salmon sharks per square mile (386 salmon sharks per km2) have been observed in these areas. The sharks will hunt the salmon in groups, or packs, similar to how wolves hunt their prey. Salmon are attacked from below or behind. Salmon sharks have been seen leaping out of the water in pursuit of their prey and may clear the water with a salmon in their jaws. At least two accounts of salmon sharks taking sea otters were reported in Prince William Sound, Alaska. In one account the 300–400 pound (136–181 kg) shark attacked a female otter as her pup swam nearby. The shark grabbed the sea otter and shook, tearing the otter to pieces only ten feet (3 m) from a fishing boat. Otter blood was splattered across the boat’s stern and onto the fishermen. The pup sea otter escaped, but likely died of starvation or was preyed upon by bald eagles, which are on the lookout for unattended young otters. I'm still not convinced these were not great white sharks taking the sea otters. Salmon sharks are considered dangerous because of their large size and aggressive nature. However, they are rarely aggressive towards people, and there is only one account of a salmon shark attacking and biting a person.
- Wright, Bruce A., 2011. Alaska Predators, Their Ecology and Conservation. Hancock House Publishing. 119 pages. http://www.hancockhouse.com/products/alapre.htm
No one has provided updates yet.