Baby tiger sharks are now only eating seafood; they are also munching on songbirds. According to a study, published on Tuesday in the journal Ecology, scientists have known the fantastic finding. Generally, baby tiger sharks feed on sea creatures like fish, sea turtles, sea snakes. But scientists have discovered that these baby sharks often feed on songbirds like woodpeckers, doves, and sparrows. Kevin Feldheim, a researcher at Chicago’s Field Museum, is one of the authors of the study. As per Kevin, tiger sharks look for an easy meal and snatch it up. But the scientist was surprised when he came to know that the shark eats songbirds.
Marcus Drymon of Mississippi State University, study’s leading author, carried out an eight-year-long study (from 2010-2018). The research involved 105 sharks. The team trapped the 3-foot long baby tiger sharks and pumped their stomachs. After investigating on diets, scientists found that the stomach of 41 sharks had bird residues. It included some incompletely digested birds. To know more about the type of birds they forwarded the feathery remains to the Field Museum. Kevin lead the study at the Field Museum’s Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution. The DNA analysis of residues revealed the remains belong to songbirds rather than seabirds. Kevin noted none of them belonged to seabirds like seagulls or pelicans.
Marcus and his team studied sharks present in the Gulf of Mexico. Besides, it was a season when birds travel from one territory to another. Scientists surmise migration might be the reason which brought those land birds over the oceans. Kevin said the baby tiger sharks hunt songbirds who cannot fly over the sea. As per the scientist, the land birds are already tired, and they often fall into the sea due to strong winds. Thus it is easy for tiger sharks to eat land birds because they cannot manage to fly like that of seabirds. While scientists say, the discovery may assist in further studies to better understand tiger sharks. It could also help in protecting the species moving towards extinction.