Do Sharks Hunt at Night? (Answered)

Sharks are well-known creatures that hunt in the deep ends of the sea, and it’s not surprising that most people wonder if these animals hunt at night. Like humans, sharks need to rest and cannot hunt 24 hours a day. Therefore, whether sharks hunt at night or during the daytime can be confusing. Also, if they hunt during the daytime, do they rest at night?

But, do sharks hunt at night?

Yes, some shark species, including gray, whitetip reef, and nurse sharks, are active at night and hunt at night. However, most shark species hunt in shifts depending on the food availability. This separates them and minimizes conflict among each other.

In this article, we’ll discuss more about sharks feeding patterns, reasons, their eyesight at night, and other fascinating facts about these creatures. Read on!


Do Sharks Feed at Night?

Yes, sharks are nocturnal creatures that eat at night and dawn and are more active in the dark. Typically, sharks have a natural source of food that they take advantage of at night. These animals also have a unique adaptation that allows them to absorb some light during the day that they use later at dusk till dawn.

There are over 500 shark species on the earth with different behaviors and activity patterns. Most are crepuscular species active during the day and at night, while others are active at dusk and dawn.

Most shark species are nocturnal predators, so they eat at night. Also, they neither have a specific time for aggressive displays nor are restricted to particular days and nights.

Sharks have excellent eyesight that can detect differential light reflected by objects and prey. As a result, you should avoid ocean areas with sharks at night as they may confuse humans for their prey due to their exceptional visibility. Therefore, you should stay away from water at these times of the day to minimize the risk of attack by a shark.

Do Great White Sharks Hunt at Night?

No, great white sharks are more active during the day and rest at night. These animals swim deep during the day and wait for the prey to float above them to make a catch. At night, white sharks get some sleep to acquire some energy ready for the next day.

You will mostly find white sharks close to the bottom of the shoreline at night. These sharks don’t have eyelids, and you’ll find their eyes and mouth open as they glide through the current and enter a deep sleep state. It is interesting how white sharks sleep as their prey sleeps at night.

This helps them recharge their batteries to stay prepared for the next day. Also, the night sleeping pattern helps sharks stay in a hideout. However, although they rule in the ocean and are apex predators, they mostly prefer hiding in the darkness to remain protected.

Why Do Sharks Hunt at Night?

Sharks are nocturnal predators and are more active at night than during the day. These animals take advantage of their prey since they have poor eyesight at night and have reduced less-effective defensive mechanisms at night. Sharks have a unique adaptation that enhances their visibility at night.

However, sharks find it challenging to catch their prey during the day. Also, some of their prey is too fast, and others camouflage to the point they cannot be easily spotted. Sharks also prefer hunting at night since they spend less energy chasing their prey. Most of their prey sleep at night, making it easy for sharks to attack them with less struggle.

Some research, however, reveals that some shark species rarely sleep. But this is not the reason why they hunt at night. Sharks are mainly active during the day since their predators (dolphins and humans) target them. This makes hunting stressful during the day due to the attack risk.

Sharks are quite lazy during the day as they digest meals at night until they complete digesting the available food. Lastly, sharks prefer hunting at night since few similar predators target their prey.


Can a Shark See in the Night?

Yes, nighttime gives sharks perfect eyesight. These animals are nocturnal predators with a unique adaptation that enables them to see in low-light situations. Generally, sharks have sharp vision compared to other sea creatures, which allows them to distinguish light reflection from prey and objects.

Sharks have a tapetum lucidum, a layer of mirrored crystals located at the back of their eyeball, immediately behind their retina. This feature enables light to shine on their eyes like a light reflection from a cat or dog at night.

Light passes through human eyes once without reflection. However, the tapetum lucidum in sharks bounces light in dark water, enhancing their visibility for objects. Therefore, sharks have an incredible light vision that enables them to see well, even when there’s little light.

How Do Sharks Find Prey at Night?

In addition to their great night visibility, sharks have other features that enable them to find their prey at night. These animals have a strong sense of smell and hearing ability, allowing them to hear low-pitch sounds. Also, they have unique body colorings that enable them to see prey before they are spotted.

Sharks have nostrils known as nares that allow them to follow the scent in the direction of the prey. Even if the nostrils detect a higher smell concentration, they first navigate toward the scent. Also, after sharks approach their potential prey, they start looking for visual cues that give them a coloring that their prey cannot see from above.

Sharks also have a tiny mechanosensor in their skin, enabling them to identify their prey a meter away. The lateral line is the most prominent source of this sense that you may locate in many fish species. However, sharks have hair cells that allow them to detect changes in pressure and the direction of water around them. This sensory mechanism helps them to find hidden prey and hunt at night.

Sharks That Are More Active at Night

Nocturnal and crepuscular shark species, including horn, swell, hammerhead, sand tiger, and whitetip shark, are the most active at night. The main reason these sharks are active at night is unknown. However, they are believed to receive lower competition from larger sharks who consider them potential prey.

Further, you will find other shark species with diurnal hunting habits. Tiger sharks and bull sharks are active during the day and night and will hunt whenever they find potential prey. Also, the great white sharks are unpredictable and hunt at any time of the day. Thus, you should avoid water areas with these sharks at night.

Bottom Line

Sharks are fascinating creatures that hunt at night without considering it a risk. However, not all species hunt at night, and you’ll probably find others hunting during the day.

No matter what time a specific shark species hunts, you should keep an eye on sharks and stay safe. This is because they have an opportunistic feeding habit that makes them active at different times of the day to avoid competition.

Disclaimer: This blog should not be considered as being professional pet medical advice. The content published on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please always consult with a licensed and local veterinarian for medical advice.

About Shaun Clarke

Shaun is passionate about pets and animals, especially dogs, cats, and rabbits. He owns a dog and a couple of cats too. He loves visiting wildlife sanctuaries and shares a strong bond with animals. When he is not writing, he loves to do a barbecue in the backyard with his family and friends.