Great white sharks, the world's largest predatory fish, eat three to four times more food than previously thought, an Australian study shows.
U.S. research from the 1980s estimated a 30-kilogram, or 66-pound meal of mammal blubber could sustain a one-ton shark for more than six weeks.
That perpetuated assumptions that large sharks could survive long periods without eating.
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However, a University of Tasmania-led study published this week in Scientific Reports on the nature.com website found that 30 kilos was only enough for 12-15 days.
Researchers tagged a dozen great white sharks at Neptune Islands off South Australia and calculated their metabolic rate derived from swimming speeds.
They worked out how much energy the sharks burned and how much food they required.
Senior research scientist Jayson Semmens, lead author on the study, said the amount of energy required by great white sharks was equivalent to eating a seal pup every three days.
"They picked a shark that probably wasn't working very hard at the time when they did it," Semmens told ABC television.