Do Sharks Eat Jellyfish? [Explained]

Yes, omnivorous sharks love to eat jellyfish. Over 400 species of sharks and species like Tiger sharks, whale sharks, and hammerhead sharks, are known to consume jellyfish as part of their diet. The jellyfish consumed by these sharks can vary depending on their habitat and species. However, jellyfish serve as a valuable source of nutrition for these predatory animals.

In this article, you will gain further insight into the times when sharks feed on jellyfish and those they leave alone.

Do Sharks Eat Jellyfish?

Sharks do not typically eat jellyfish, but some species of sharks are omnivores which may include jellyfish in their diet.

Some shark species, such as the Nurse Shark, have been known to use suction feeding to consume jellyfish and other soft-bodied animals. The Spiny Dogfish is another example of a species that will feed on smaller jellyfish.

Additionally, there are some larger sharks that can take advantage of large quantities of jellyfish by eating them in bulk. For instance, the Whale Shark is an enormous filter feeder capable of consuming huge numbers of jellies all at once.

Smaller predator sharks, such as the Tiger Shark, may target and consume individual jellyfish with precision strikes. Even though some shark species consume jellyfish, they are only a small part of their overall diet.

Sharks generally prefer a more nutrient-rich meal, such as fish and shellfish, over the more energy-poor option, which is jellyfish.

When Do Sharks Eat Jellyfish?

As said before, sharks do not normally feed on jellyfish. Instead prefer other sources of sustenance, such as fish, squid, and other marine creatures.


In fact, most species of shark have a tough time digesting jellyfish due to their gelatinous composition. Sharks may resort to eating jellyfish if their typical food sources are scarce or if they become trapped in a situation where the only available prey is jellyfish. This can occur during times when a particular food source has been overfished or in areas with limited prey availability.

Sharks may also be forced to consume jellyfish if they become entangled in a net or line and struggle to free themselves. In these cases, the shark may consume parts of the jellyfish out of desperation, although the nutrient content of the jellyfish will likely not provide enough sustenance for long-term survival.

Another possible scenario is that larger predatory sharks may feed on smaller shark species that have fed on large amounts of jellyfish prior to being consumed by the larger predator. While this occurrence would not be considered direct consumption, it could still serve as an indirect source of nutrition for the larger sharks.

Why Do Sharks Avoid Jellyfish?

Sharks typically don’t consume jellyfish as part of their regular diet because many species of jellyfish are not a viable food source for them. Jellyfish generally have very few nutritive elements, and the soft and fragile body structure makes it difficult to catch and swallow. That’s the one reason sharks avoid jellyfish.

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In addition, many species of jellyfish have evolved special defensive strategies against predators, such as stinging cells that allow them to paralyze or repel potential predators. The sting from some types of jellyfish can even be fatal to sharks, making them undesirable prey items.

Furthermore, jellyfish lack physical structures such as scales or fins that enable them to move quickly enough to escape capture by larger predators like sharks.

Finally, feeding jellyfish requires a greater expenditure of energy than other food sources—such as fish—which is why sharks tend to hunt for more nutritional prey items instead.

Are Jellyfish Poisonous to Sharks?

Jellyfish are usually not considered poisonous to sharks, as their tough and thick skin protects them from most stings. However, jellyfish can still be deadly to sharks if eaten whole.

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The long tentacles of a jellyfish contain thousands of microscopic, barbed stingers which can inject venom when touched. This venom can cause instant pain and inflamed marks on the skin for humans, but sharks are much less likely to have any effect due to their special protective skin. In some rare cases, however, the venom from a jellyfish sting may be life-threatening even if it does not penetrate the shark’s skin.

In addition to jellyfish stings, sharks may also fall victim to other types of poison, such as neurotoxins or hemotoxins that occur naturally in some species of jellyfish.

While these toxins do not directly affect the shark’s skin, they could still be potentially fatal if they are consumed by a shark that has eaten a particularly toxic jellyfish as prey. In some cases, contact with even just small amounts of these toxins can cause paralysis or death in certain species of shark.

What Type of Jellyfish Do Sharks Typically Prey Upon?

Omnivorous sharks prey upon a variety of different types of jellyfish, depending on their location.

In coastal regions, the most common type of jellyfish that sharks feed on are moon jellies and comb jellies.

Moon jellies are some of the most common jellyfish in the world and can grow up to 40 cm in diameter. They have four roundish or semi-circular shaped lobes with a rounded bell shape body, which is why they often get mistaken for an umbrella.


Comb jellies are distinct from other jellyfish due to their unique row of combs along their sides, which give them a shimmering rainbow appearance when light hits them. These creatures come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from 3 to 25 cm long.

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Sharks also prey upon adhesive bubble jellies and white spotted jellies in shallow waters. Adhesive bubble jellyfish are usually found in warm waters and have large circular disks that measure up to 15 cm across. Their tentacles range from short to very long and contain tiny fishhooks that help them catch their prey as they drift along ocean currents.

White-spotted jellies have four circles around the edge of their bodies, which help them move through the water more efficiently but also give away their presence to predators like sharks. These creatures typically range between 10 – 20 cm wide and feature small white spots along the edges of their bodies, making them easy targets for hungry predators looking for an easy meal.

Who Are the Predators of Jellyfish?

The predators of jellyfish include a range of aquatic animals, such as fish, turtles, dolphins, and even other species of jellyfish. Other creatures that prey on jellyfish include sea birds and sea mammals like seals and whales. Even humans have been known to hunt jellyfish for food in some parts of the world.

Fish are one of the most common predators of jellyfish. In fact, much predatory fish feed exclusively on these gelatinous organisms. Groupers, codfish, and tunas are just some of the species that regularly hunt down and consume jellyfish in the ocean.

Jellyfish also serve as an important food source for smaller species such as sardines and anchovies. Additionally, some large sharks have been known to consume jellyfish when their preferred prey is unavailable.

Turtles are another top predator when it comes to hunting jellyfish in the wild. They usually feast on smaller types of jellies like moon jellies or sea nettles. Turtles have adapted mechanisms for consuming these slippery creatures, such as sharp beaks or serrated edges along their shells and throats, which allow them to tear apart their prey before swallowing it whole.

Dolphins are yet another significant threat when it comes to predation on jellyfish populations in the oceans near shorelines or around coral reefs. Killer whales will occasionally target large aggregations, but more commonly, they feed mainly on squid and schooling fish instead.

Bottlenose dolphins will often team up together with some individuals chasing groups of jellies while others get ready to lunge out of the water in order to catch them mid-air before they can escape back into the depths below.

In addition to being hunted by larger aquatic predators, there are also cases where smaller organisms can hunt down other species within this gelatinous group as well, such as certain species of box jellies that actively seek out other jellyfish in order to consume them for sustenance during periods when there is limited availability of planktonic prey sources in their environment.

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In addition, some deep-sea snail species have evolved complex mechanisms which allow them to latch onto floating jellyfish before sucking out their viscous interiors like a straw or vacuum cleaner does with dust particles from carpets!

Outside aquatic environments, bird predation is also quite common, especially with migratory seabirds that follow seasonal blooms throughout different ocean regions each year, feeding exclusively off large populations of jellies throughout their journeying routes until they arrive at their nesting habitats again once spring arrives again each year at last!

Lastly, there has been evidence showing that both seals & whales may occasionally target much larger aggregations if times become dire enough—though this behaviour appears much less frequent than all other marine animals previously mentioned due to toxins contained within most species’ tissue which can cause adverse reactions whenever consumed in high quantities by non-adapted animals!

So, except sharks, there are so many other predators of jellyfish indeed!


Can jellyfish kill a shark?

Jellyfish can potentially kill a shark, but it is rare. The venom in jellyfish tentacles can cause paralysis and potentially lead to death in sharks. However, most shark species have a tolerance for jellyfish venom and can swim away unharmed.

Do tiger sharks eat jellyfish?

Tiger sharks have been known to consume jellyfish as part of their varied diet, which also includes a range of other marine species and even garbage. Studies have shown that jellyfish can make up a significant portion of a tiger shark’s diet in some areas.

Can jellyfish sting a shark?

Yes, jellyfish can sting a shark. The tentacles of some jellyfish contain venomous cells called cnidocytes that can be used to sting predators. However, the effect of jellyfish stings on sharks is not well understood, as it depends on the species of both the shark and the jellyfish.

A study published in the journal “Fish and Fisheries” found that juvenile blacktip sharks were significantly affected by stings from a jellyfish species known as the sea nettle. Another study published in the “Journal of Fish Biology” reported that whale sharks did not seem to be affected by stings from box jellyfish.


Now, do you understand which sharks feed on jellyfish and when they consume the creatures? As it turns out, jellyfish have a wide range of predators. While omnivorous sharks may be the most feared predators of these gelatinous creatures, they are far from being the only ones.

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