Shark poop and their digestive system are very interesting. Sharks are known as top predators, but their role in the food chain starts at the bottom. Did you know that the waste of a shark is a delicacy for the rest of the fish in the sea?
Shark Poop Is Nourishing The Ocean
Of course! Shark poop is infact very nutritious for the ocean. A new paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B shows the work of a team of scientists from Imperial College London in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London who found that the droplets of reef sharks represent a large proportion of nutrients that support the coral reefs of the world.
Researchers monitored the movements of blacktip reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) by fitting them with acoustic markings in the waters around Palmyra Atoll, a remote reef south of Hawaii. These sharks are of particular interest because they frequently visit coral reefs, where a large proportion of their prey are bony pelagic fish.
They distribute nutrients to the open ocean by depositing their prey on the reef. Combined with their knowledge of their dietary habits and new tracking data, scientists have found that the population of these sharks in the environment is estimated to include about 8,300 individual animals that release 954 kg of nitrogen into the reef ecosystem every day. This is a significant amount of nutrients that contribute to the primary productivity of the reefs, which in turn acts as fertilizer for thousands of other species that call the reef environment home.
Estimating the amount of shark poop may not seem like a glamorous pastime, but the results of this research have fascinating implications not only for our understanding of the fragile coral reef ecosystem but also of the ecological importance of blacktip reef sharks. Grey reef sharks are common around the world and a common sight among divers, but their numbers are declining and they are listed as threatened on the IUCN Red List.
Combining their well-known role as predators, this research highlights the obvious role these sharks play in improving the resilience of vulnerable habitats and underscores the critical importance of protecting them and other widespread predators.
How Do Sharks Poop?
The inside of a shark is designed for maximum efficiency by the shark. Sharks have a large J-shaped belly that expands rapidly. When prey is caught, it is swallowed whole or in large chunks. Large bones and other indigestible objects are prevented from entering the stomach by small openings in the intestine and are flushed back into the mouth. The stomach also produces acid strong enough to dissolve metal.
To get rid of their stomachs and indigestible material, sharks force them out through their mouths, wash them in seawater and then pull them back to their normal location. Haidarm is short and compact. The surface of the intestine is enlarged by internal valves and coils, which can take different shapes. This slows down the flow of food through the intestine and speeds up the rate at which it is digested and absorbed into the blood. Shark livers are huge and consist of two large lobes that surround the digestive tract.
The concentration of salt in body tissues and fluids is much lower in marine fish than in surrounding water, so there is a tendency for water to leave the body of the shark through gill osmosis. Sharks compensate by retaining urea, a waste product of food produced in the liver.
In order to maintain an increased level of urea and sodium chloride ions (trimethylamine oxide or TMAO) in the blood, sharks avoid dehydration in a saltwater environment. Shark livers account for about 30% of their body weight. The liver stores carbohydrates and fats to release sugars when energy is needed, and contains oils that support buoyancy.
Like other fish, sharks have two types of muscle tissue: red and white, which are darker and lighter than the flesh of a turkey.
What Does Shark Poop Look Like?
Below is a photo of what shark poop looks like:
Red muscles contain high levels of myoglobin, which stores a lot of oxygen. They are used for sustainable long-distance swimming. In sharks such as white mako (bony fish), the heat generated by the red muscles is returned to them through a network of blood vessels. This increases the internal body temperature, which increases the efficiency of red muscle tissue. White muscles make up the bulk of shark muscle mass, but they do not store as much oxygen and cannot sustain swimming for long periods of time.
Scientists have developed tests that use shark poop to study shark stress and sex hormones. Shark poop can tell you what’s being eaten by other things. Scientists can analyze fresh shark populations. You can get clues as to what the shark eats and what else is in it.
The Color Of Shark Poop
The composition of the shark poop involves a combination of breaking down blood, muscles and their food. Shark waste products also contain DNA residues from gut cells. Although their excrement appears yellow, seawater could be misleading the color. Shark poop is closer to a green color.
The green coloured bile is responsible for the breakdown of food. It occurs when the blood (red blood cells) is broken down. The yellowish color is bilirubin.
After passing through the liver, gall bladder and digestive tract, excretion takes place. This excretion may be urine or pups.