Study finds link between backyard birds and tiger sharks

By Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium

PHOTO CREDIT: Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium

A new study has found that songbirds are a remarkably common part of young tiger sharks’ diets.

The study is described in the article “Tiger sharks eat songbirds: scavenging a windfall of nutrients from the sky,” which was published today in the peer-reviewed journal Ecology. Scientists investigated the stomach contents of 105 neonate (i.e. newborn) tiger sharks collected during bottom longline surveys from 2010-18. Forty-one (or 39%) of the tiger sharks contained bird remains.

“Studies show tiger sharks will consume almost anything,” Marcus Drymon, of Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Service and Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and primary author of the article, said. “What’s interesting about this study is it finds that songbirds are a fairly predictable source of food, particularly for young tiger sharks. That’s not a connection you would easily make.”

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