The diet of the ragged-tooth shark Carcharias taurus Rafinesque 1810 in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

  • M J Smale Port Elizabeth Museum at Bayworld, Port Elizabeth, PO Box 13147, Humewood 6013, South Africa
Keywords: grey nurse shark, Lamniformes, nursery areas, Odontaspididae, predator-prey, sand-tiger shark


The ragged-tooth shark Carcharias taurus is a large predator of inshore coastal waters in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Born at about 1m long and attaining approximately 3m, stomach content analyses have shown that it feeds largely on teleosts and elasmobranchs, although cephalopods are taken to a lesser extent. Similar prey taxa were taken by small <𕟪m) and large individuals (ɮm), although the larger predators broadened their trophic niche to include a greater variety of elasmobranchs and more active prey. Maximum prey size increased with predator size. Both reefassociated and benthic fishes typical of sandy substrates were included in the diet and, in addition to inshore species, those typical of deeper shelf waters were also taken. Although C. taurus appear to prefer to swim around high relief reefs with caves and gullies by day, it is inferred that they must also hunt over soft substrates, possibly at night.

African Journal of Marine Science 2005, 27(1): 331–335

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1814-2338
print ISSN: 1814-232X