How Do Sharks Poop and Pee?

February 14, 2024

Sharks are ocean eating machines that feed on a huge variety of critters. The enormous creatures require tons of food to boost their energy levels, but all that eating results in waste products. So, how do sharks poop and pee?

The answer is a little complicated. Sharks don’t have a urinary tract like mammals, but they do produce urea. The apex predators use urea to help regulate the concentration of salt in their blood and prevent dehydration. Sharks also absorb a lot of water into their bodies through their skin and gill filaments. All that water needs to be pushed out. So, sharks produce urea in their livers to keep the salt concentration from overly sucking out their watery slumber.

When sharks eat, the food goes on a thrilling ride through their efficient digestive “gut highway.” The nutrient-rich leftovers become shark poop, which is passed out of their body in a massive cloud of green feces. Great White and tiger shark poop is particularly visibly because it’s full of algae and other bits of dead fish.

Tracking shark poop isn’t easy, because it disperses quickly through the water due to ocean currents. However, researchers do have a few ways to study it, including using a technique called photo-ionization mass spectrometry to identify the chemicals in feces samples. They’ve found that the feces of certain species contain high concentrations of uric acid and other chemicals indicative of protein breakdown. This information can help scientists study a shark’s diet and behavior.


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