Bull Sharks Bite the Hardest

Written by on October 15, 2012 in Marine Life
Bull shark. Photo credit: NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC.

Bull shark. Photo credit: NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC.

A new study has determined that bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) have the strongest bite, relative to their body size, of any shark species.

Maria Habegger from the University of South Florida and her colleagues in the US and Germany studied the bite force of 13 different shark species and their closest relatives, ranging in size and diet.

“We expect strong bite force values in the larger sharks that occupy top positions in the food chain, for example, the great hammerhead, great white shark, tigers and bull sharks,” explained Habegger to BBC Nature.

“These species usually prey upon large prey items such as dolphins, turtles and other sharks, so high bite forces are expected due to the mechanical demands of this type of prey,” she continued.

To determine the relative value of bite force, pound per pound, the researchers calculated a way to remove body size from the equation.

The maximum bite force for adult bull sharks is 6,000N.  The researchers noted that this is much greater than the force required to kill and eat prey.

“From our knowledge there is no need of such massive values to break fish skin or even to puncture bone,” Habegger told BBC Nature.

Bull shark swimming in shallow water. Photo credit: Apex Predators Program, NOAA/NEFSC.

Bull shark swimming in shallow water. Photo credit: Apex Predators Program, NOAA/NEFSC.

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Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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