Do sharks dislike the taste of human flesh?

Dr. Daniel Bucher, a shark expert at Southern Cross University, says that the notion they do is just a myth. So if you have a pet shark, go ahead and feed them fresh filet-o-human.

Oh no ... sharks DO like the taste of human flesh
The Logan Reporter

According to Southern Cross University shark expert Dr Daniel Bucher it is not true sharks don't like the taste of human flesh. He said there was no evidence to support this claim, which he believed gained acceptance to allay people's fears of shark attack.
"Normally they eat fish, but they don't mind red meat if they can get it," he said.
"Seals have very red meat (like humans) from oxygen binding proteins in the blood. Great white sharks feed on seals."

To be honest, I had never heard this claim of sharks disliking the taste of humans, but with some googling I quickly found people expressing this opinion. So the idea is definitely out there. But it made me curious, so I looked into it a bit more.

The idea of sharks disliking human flesh is rooted in the observation that most shark attacks involve a single bite before the shark swims away. As if the shark was doing a taste test and decided, "No! Don't like that!"

Going back a few decades, one can find scientists stating that sharks don't like the taste of us. For instance, in September 1968, Dr. Shelton Applegate, associate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, told this to the Associated Press.

The Evening Independent - Sep 2, 1968

But scientific thinking on this topic has become more nuanced.

In a 2004 interview with National Geographic, shark expert R. Aidan Martin explained that sharks tend to bite humans once and then swim away because their intention is not to eat us, but rather to investigate what we are:

"Great whites are curious and investigative animals. That's what most people don't realize. When great whites bite something unfamiliar to them, whether a person or a crab pot, they're looking for tactile evidence about what it is. A great white uses its teeth the way humans use their hands. In a living shark, every tooth has ten to fifteen degrees of flex. When the animal opens its mouth, the tooth bed is pulled back, causing their teeth to splay out like a cat's whiskers. Combine that with the flexibility of each tooth, and you realize a great white can use its jaws like a pair of forceps. They're very adept at grabbing things that snag their curiosity."

However, Martin also noted that sharks don't like the boniness of humans. So, given a choice, they'd rather eat a fat, plump seal than a scrawny, bony human — even if the taste of our flesh is palatable to them.

So, to sum up, sharks like our flesh, but they don't like our bones.

And here's a random video I came across while researching the topic:


Posted on Wed Dec 18, 2013


What about the feeding habits of great whites when it comes to seals. I have seen how sharks will bite a seal and let go while waiting for the seal to bleed to death so as to avoid injury which an injured seal is capable of inflicting on a shark.

Is it possible sharks behave the same way in some attacks on humans especially considering we may be unfamiliar prey. I wouldn't be surprised if a shark were to consume us after bleeding to death and bobbing around in the water for a while
Posted by erik  on  Wed Jul 02, 2014  at  09:34 PM
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