Do Sharks Eat Penguins

Due to the media and films such as “Jaws” and “Shark Tale,” the public believes people are part of sharks’ primary diet. The statement is especially true for the Great White Shark, which has gotten the most negative remarks about being blamed for human attacks. Contrary to popular belief, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Some studies have found that Great White Sharks only attack when threatened. However, others have found that most attacks on people are a case of mistaken identification. Humans riding surfboards resemble seals or turtles on the ocean’s surface to the Great White Shark, both of which are part of their essential diet. Do sharks, on the other hand, enjoy eating penguins?

Did You Know – A Gentoo penguin has a top speed of 22 mph, around the maximum speed of a Great White Shark. Penguins are fast and agile, but we often hear shark fans saying, sharks eat penguins. Some people mistakenly believe that the food chain indicates that one species may beat another; that’s not how it works in any case. Sharks eat penguins, but the penguin can also win against a shark – one-on-one.

Is it a myth or a fact? Well, let’s dive into it deep as the penguins do, shall we?

First, let’s set something straight, the first thought which comes to the top of our mind when we first hear the word sharks is the great white but did you know they are not the only sharks in nature. There are about There are over 400 different species of Shark. Some estimates suggest over a billion sharks in the ocean. But the giant predatory Shark in the ocean is the Great White Shark. Hence, they are popular.

Facts about penguins: Penguins are available in a broad range of sizes, from 15 inches to over four feet tall. They may range in weight from two pounds to 88 pounds. The most notable species, Emperor Penguins, may dive as deep as 1800 feet in pursuit of prey and stay down for 20 minutes. A penguin’s life expectancy is between 15-20 years, assuming they survive their first year.


Shark facts: The Great White Sharks, often known as the “White Death,” are joined by a dozen other siblings, each averaging roughly 1.5 meters (5 feet) in length. They gradually get to the top of the food chain. An ordinary Great White Shark is between four and five meters (16 feet) in length and weighs between 680 and 1,000 kg (2200 pounds). A subject of debate is the maximum size of a Great White Shark. The longest Shark ever measured was 6.4 meters (21 feet) and was caught in Cuban waters in 1945. According to the Canadian Shark Research Center, Albertan David McKendrick, who captured a shark measuring 6.1 meters, has identified the second-largest Shark (20 feet).

Great White Shark
Great White Shark

Do sharks eat penguins?

The white Shark likes to eat giant creatures. However, this does not imply that they are simple to get. Those creatures are also formidable predators (forming part of a food chain). Because these sharks are curious creatures, they will eat nearly everything that comes their way, even if it is difficult to digest.

According to reports, great white sharks eat almost anything: fishes, turtles, dugongs, penguins, other seabirds, whales, and other sharks. Yes, other sharks are also in harm’s way for a great white.

A shark will eat just about any species in the water. Tiger sharks have been termed “sea garbage cans” due to their opportunistic feeding on living and dead prey.

“Tiger sharks have been seen devouring a variety of human waste, including bags of chips.” Would you have faith in me if I told you anything like that? It is true.

The sharks measuring less than 3 meters (9.8 feet) in length go for food that includes fish (like fish like rays, other smaller sharks, and invertebrates on the bottom of the sea, such as crabs, shrimps, shellfish, and anchovies. Their jaws have not fully matured and are not as strong as adults, so they do not readily feed on giant animals like penguins. These sharks reside in shallow seas.

The San Diego Zoo has kept dozen leopard sharks and 20 African penguins in the same area – a 200,000-gallon seawater pool. The reason being leopard sharks do not see penguins as a food source. They seem to be doing well.

leopard sharks
leopard sharks

According to the zoo, leopard sharks are not native to Africa but are similar to African penguins’ waters. They’re one of the most common types of sharks found along the coast of California.

In general, as the Shark’s size grows, so does the size of its prey. Like the Hammerhead Shark, other more giant sharks will go for seals, penguins, and other smaller shark species, much as the Great White Shark does. The Whale Shark and the Basking Shark, for example, exist by cruising around with their jaws open, sifting through plankton (which consists of millions of minute plants) and zooplankton (which comprises of tiny invertebrates – consisting of little animals like krill, squid larvae, and jellyfish larvae). When they reach a length of 4 meters (13 feet), great white sharks are likely to go for the thick covering of fat on animals. Many sharks feed on the weak and inferior members of the sea. They choose them because catching weak, diseased, injured, or dying prey is easier.

Sharks are opportunistic eaters and scavengers. Since eating penguins is a more labor-intensive process, Sharks usually prefer to hunt smaller and weaker adult penguins as these are the lowest and most vulnerable individuals.

Orcas are the main predators of penguins, while sharks eat penguins like popcorn. Although the tremendous white Shark has a fearsome reputation, the orcas easily defeat it. Not only are the orcas much more prominent, but they are also brilliant too. Orcas are the predators of great white sharks and can easily hunt them.

For instance: Orcas will even attack and kill great white sharks to eat penguins’ livers as they are a high-energy food source. And Penguins, overall, have a layer of insulating fat with high nutritional value. Due to this reason, Penguins are a food source for many marine mammals, including sharks.

What Penguins Species Does A Shark Eat?

Great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias), hammerhead sharks (Sphyrnidae), and tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) are shark species that usually hunt penguins. Target species include Emperor, Chinstrap, Adelie, Gentoo, Rockhopper, and King Penguins.

Like great white sharks, other more giant sharks such as hammerhead sharks prey on penguins. When hunting penguins sharks, they consume less energy and gain more power.

Penguins Strategies To Avoid Getting Eaten By Sharks

Many penguins are fast and agile. Penguins have long, elegant necks and quick reflexes, which allow them to hunt fish that jolt in random directions.

Gentoo penguins can reach 22 miles per hour, around the maximum speed of a Great White Shark. Penguins are among the fastest birds underwater. Sharks get their top speed 25-30 miles an hour when they put on a quick burst of speed through long straightaways and the ability to propel themselves through the water

On the other hand, Penguins have feathers that collect and release air to produce low-density water filled with air bubbles to create a jet-like stream in the water. This jet-like stream allows them to go up to 3 times their cruising speed and enables them to jump many feet into the air onto icebergs

Penguins have strong wings that allow them to travel quickly in the water. This quickness and dexterity mean other animals can’t easily defeat them, having an equal challenge to beat them one on one. Plus, if a penguin feels threatened, it can bite. Penguins have sharp beaks that feel more like clamps.

Sharks have little fins on their sides. When compared to a penguin, their agility is awful. What a disaster! Well, even the turtle’s outmaneuvering sharks. Yes, a turtle, we all know the story of the rabbit and the tortoise and know how slow turtles are.

Shark’s weakness is the gills. Sharks have another disadvantage. If you hold them upside down, they become limp. Orcas have used this approach to kill even big white sharks by turning them upside down and holding them there for a few seconds. If you leave them there long enough, they’ll die. Sharks must keep moving, or they will perish. It’s how sharks breathe underwater.

Penguin swiming

Sharks are also cold-blooded. If you put sharks in cold water, they’ll be as sluggish as a sloth. If you put a shark on ice, the Shark will die. A penguin, though, is quite comfortable on the ice. There are no sharks in Antarctica; where do we mostly find penguins? Antarctica.

What animals eat penguins and out beat them, I hear you ask? Penguins have predators both on the land and in the sea. In the water, the main predators of penguins are leopard seals, seals, sea lions, sharks, or killer whales, while land skuas usually hunt their young.

On land, foxes, snakes, lizards, dogs, and a few other creatures raid nests and devour eggs and chicks in non-Antarctic species like the Galapagos penguin, among others since there are no natural predators. The biggest threat to Penguins is humans, from loss of habitat from climate change and loss of diet caused by overfishing and pollution. However, sharks and sea lions can threaten penguins in the northern hemisphere.

Penguins do fall prey to white sharks, although rarely. South Africa is home to 117 different sharks, representing all their significant families. A 2017 study on the diet of tiger sharks in South Africa found that about a quarter of tiger sharks have birds in their stomachs, many of which are African penguins (Spheniscus demersus).


Sharks are opportunistic eaters and scavengers. Since eating penguins is a more labor-intensive process, Sharks usually prefer to hunt smaller and weaker adult penguins as these are the lowest and most vulnerable individuals.

Penguins are also highly determined animals. They are well known to go far and struggle – with speed, agility, quick reflexes, and determination to meet their needs in life. It’s no surprise that penguins encounter Great White Sharks, but they’re not easy to catch. Hence, penguins also fall prey to the sharks, though infrequently.

The facts to get cleared with answers are indeed interesting. I hope you got the response to the factual discussion that happened one day with your friends or family where you left the space filled with sheepish smiles.


Image Source:

Penguins by Antarctica Bound / CC BY
Great White Shark by Elias Levy / CC BY
leopard sharks by Tewy / CC BY
Penguin swiming / CC By


I got interested in penguins from a young age and as I grew I realized that penguins are such fascinating birds. I made it a mission to create a website where all information about penguins could be accessed in an easy to read format.

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