Researchers find alligators are eating sharks

If you’ve ever wondered which toothy predator would come out victorious in an alligator versus shark face-off, you can consider your curiosity satisfied. 

A recent study suggests the one with the greatest size advantage would win, and scientists know this because they’ve come upon evidence that American gators eat small sharks. 

Researchers led by a Kansas State University scientist pumped the stomachs of about 500 alligators, all alive and awake, and found that some had recently feasted on various shark species. 

That a gator would eat anything it can catch is not entirely shocking, but it is surprising to find freshwater creatures consuming saltwater prey.

“Alligators seek out fresh water in high-salinity environments. When it rains really hard, they can actually sip fresh water off the surface of the salt water," James Nifong, the team’s leader, explained. “That can prolong the time they can stay in a saltwater environment.” 

Some of those areas happen to be popular shark nurseries. That doesn’t mean that sharks are innocent victims. 

“The frequency of one predator eating the other is really about size dynamic,” Nifong commented. "If a small shark swims by an alligator and the alligator feels like it can take the shark down, it will, but we also reviewed some old stories about larger sharks eating smaller alligators.”

RELATED: States with the most shark attacks historically

States with the most shark attacks historically
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States with the most shark attacks historically

10. New York: 10 unprovoked attacks

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9. Georgia: 13 unprovoked attacks

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8. New Jersey: 15 unprovoked attacks

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7. Oregon: 26 unprovoked attacks

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6. Texas: 41 unprovoked shark attacks

The expansive Glaveston beach has had 17 total confirmed attacks.

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5. North Carolina: 60 unprovoked attacks

New Hanover County has had 13 confirmed shark attacks since 1935.

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4. South Carolina: 90 unprovoked attacks

Throughout its history, Charleston County has had 32 shark incidents.

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3. California: 116 unprovoked attacks

San Diego had 17 attacks occur near its beaches.

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2. Hawaii: 143 unprovoked attacks

56 occurred in Maui, home to Wailea and Mākena beaches.

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1. Florida: 748 unprovoked attacks 

At least 275 confirmed attacks occurred in Volusia County, home to New Smyrna and Dayton beaches.

Photo: Getty


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