TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Scientists have found bonnethead sharks, a species common in the Tampa Bay area, feed mostly on crabs.
Commonly mistaken for baby hammerhead sharks, the bonnethead is one of most abundant shark species in the entire state, according to the research division of the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission, FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI).
Scientists examined the feeding ecology of the shark in Florida, as well as Texas, Alabama and South Carolina and the research was recently published.
“[The effort] aims to complement previous dietary studies of bonnetheads to better understand the ecological role of this species in the southeastern U.S.,” FWRI said.
FWRI said the arrangement of the shark’s teeth are geared to handle hard-shelled crabs.
The sharks also ate seagrass in regions where it was present, but FWRI said the results don’t directly prove that bonnetheads are omnivorous.
“This does support the concept that bonnetheads may play a more substantial role as nutrient vectors in seagrass ecosystems than previously recognized,” FWRI said.