Last updated on February 5th, 2022
I was surprised to learn that many animals that are categorized as predators love to eat fish. I knew this when my students started asking me about animals that eat fish.
Being a teacher of fourth graders, I have to come up with new and exciting things to tell them nearly every day! The other day my students wanted to talk about animals that eat fish.
The common notion is that these will be animals that live in water. But a little research showed me that several animals live on land that loves to consume fish. Some of these animals are not carnivores but omnivores.
Animals that eat fish:
- Bald Eagles
Alligators are predators that feed on both water and land animals. But alligators are also known to be opportunistic feeders.
This means they will feed on any animal that they think is edible. For example, smaller alligators are known to eat insects, birds, invertebrates, and small fish.
But when it comes to the more giant alligators, these creatures are known to eat all types of fish.
For example, alligators can eat fishes that are rough-skinned and have spikes. This is because the formidable jaws and teeth of alligators can easily break the skin of the bigger fishes.
As whales live in the water, it is natural to conclude that these creatures eat fish.
But the question remains how do whales eat fish? Several species of whales are carnivorous, and fish forms a regular part of their diet.
Take the sperm whale; for example, it eats fish, squid, and octopus. It hunts fish and uses its teeth to chew its prey.
But the baleen whales who do not have teeth are also known to eat fish. These whales consume smaller fishes, often shoals of fish and the baleen whales do this by capturing their prey using the giant sieve in their mouth.
Dolphins might seem to be beautiful creatures, but larger dolphins are known to be apex predators.
Like other marine creatures, dolphins are also known as ‘piscivores’ or animals that love to eat fish.
This is especially true of bottlenose dolphins. This type of dolphin can grow up to 13 feet long and weigh up to 1400 pounds. You will often find dolphins hunting and eating fish.
If you have visited a sea world amusement park and seen the performance of a dolphin, you must have observed that fish are given to the creature as a prize for their performance.
This shows that a significant part of the diet of dolphins is different types of fish.
It might surprise you that the squid, which is usually a translucent marine cephalopod, is a well-known crustacean and fish-eater.
This unusual aquatic creature is known for its huge appetite, which needs to be fulfilled with a significant amount of food.
The easy availability of smaller fishes like the cuttlefish and the lantern fish makes it easier for the squids to consume.
Squids are dangerous marine predators. The size of the fish that they hunt will depend on the size of the squid. Giant squids are known to eat fishes like codfish, hake, mackerel, and herring.
Apes are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. They also need to consume large amounts of protein to build muscle mass.
It has also been observed that apes also belong to animals that love to eat fish. But research shows that only great apes are the ones that regularly hunt and consume fish.
In the wild, orangutans have been observed fishing in water bodies, but this is primarily due to the lack of food they would normally consume, such as fruits, flowers, and leaves.
Turtles are voracious eaters and are known to have sharp jaws. These reptilian creatures are known to consume several sea creatures, especially crustaceans and fishes.
If you have a pet turtle, you can give it small fish as part of its diet, however, in the wild, turtles are known to hunt fish and eat them.
Seawater turtles have a different diet when they become adults compared to when they were hatchlings.
Hatchlings are quicker to consume small fish, while adult turtles are less likely to prey on fish.
However, the freshwater turtles like the Red-Eared Slider feeds on tiny fishes, algae, moss, and other types of aquatic vegetation whereas the Painted Turtle consumes little fishes and insects.
However, their diet is largely dependent on the fishes found in their respective water bodies.
7. Bald Eagles
The bald eagle is a well-known ‘piscivore’. You must have seen eagles circling above a water body and suddenly swooping down to grab a fish that has swum up.
The bald eagle is known to favor fishes like salmon and trout. It is an excellent hunter and can detect a fish from miles above with its sharp eyesight.
The eagle usually captures the fish with its sharp talons and then uses its beak to kill its prey. The eagle can easily tear open the fish with the help of its beak and its claws. This makes it easier for the bird to consume the fish.
Sharks like alligators are opportunistic feeders. They are known to be apex hunters as well.
You must have seen pictures of sharks hunting large animals or have watched videos of sharks hunting large marine creatures.
But it is also common knowledge that sharks consume fish when the alternative food source is not available.
When it comes to fishes, sharks do not swallow a shoal of fish like a baleen whale. But they will prey on larger fishes while waiting on an opportunity to attack.
Being a predator, it is natural for a shark to hunt, kill, and consume its prey. Sharks consume only live fishes, and these can be even the larger fishes like tuna and mackerel.
Bears are omnivores and excellent hunters. A unique feature of bears is that several species of this animal hibernate during winter. This means they lose a significant amount of body fat during hibernation, which needs to be replenished.
A bear often does that by consuming fat-rich food. You will sometimes see images of the grizzly bear with a salmon in its mouth. The primary reason for this is salmons are rich in fat, and hence, bears often tend to hunt fishes like salmon during spring.
Therefore, you will find bears hunting fishes during spring when the streams have thawed and are full of fish more than in other months of the year.
Brown bears are found hunting the smaller fishes like the trout as these are easier to track.
Jaguars are carnivores and are at the top of the food chain. Along with that, they are excellent predators.
Jaguars are a giant species of cats; like your house cat, they too love to eat fish. But the jaguar has a unique way of luring fish.
A jaguar dips its tail in the water like bait, and the fishes are drawn towards it. Once the fishes are close, the jaguar can quickly grab the fish with the help of its sharp claws and big paws.
This makes the jaguar an apex and intelligent hunter. However, the jaguar is an opportunistic hunter. It hunts fishes only when its other food sources are scarce.
Flamingoes are unique birds that spend most of their time standing in water. What makes this bird unique is its beautiful pinkish-orange plumage.
Small fishes are very important among other marine species that form a regular part of the bird’s diet.
Research shows that the color of the plumage of the flamingo depends on the food that the bird consumes.
For example, when the bird consumes more pink salmon, the plumage tends to get a more pinkish hue.
But other than salmon, small fishes typically found in shallow waters also form a part of a flamingo’s diet along with algae and crustaceans.
Wolves are carnivores and predators. In the wild, they will hunt their prey and then eat it. Amongst the various animals that they hunt, wolves are known to consume fish as well.
But they eat fishes that are found in shallow water bodies and tidal pools. However, sea wolves are excellent swimmers and can swim long distances to search out and feed on small fish and animal carcasses.
It has been observed that wolves often consume the head of salmons and not the bodies. This is especially true of the Grey Wolves found in the Alaskan peninsula.
One of the reasons wolves tend to hunt fishes in these regions is their easy availability compared to other prey.
Eels are unique fishes as they are predatory and cannibalistic. This means eels prey on smaller fishes and even on the fishes of the same species.
The primary diet of an eel consists of smaller fish. But an eel is also known to hunt, kill and consume smaller eels.
They will avoid hunting fishes that are of their size, but eels are opportunistic hunters. Therefore if an eel comes across any smaller fish than its size, it will pursue it.
The animals that are known to eat fish are alligators, whales, dolphins, squids, apes, turtles, bald eagles, sharks, bears, jaguars, flamingoes, wolves, eels, herons, otters, seagulls, osprey, lions, and orcas.