Watch A Bird Escape A Great White Shark By Pooping In Its Face

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Written by Kirstin Harrington

Updated: November 10, 2023

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great white shark leaping out of water
© Alexyz3d/Shutterstock.com

Key Points

  • Hunting sharks can be alerted more than a mile away by the rapid, erratically pulsed, broadband sounds produced by wounded birds and spawning fish at frequencies below 600 hertz.
  • There aren’t many animals that can get away from great white sharks unscathed.
  • Cormorants have a special way to ward off predators that’s equally comical and impressive.

One of the most feared apex predators in the world is the great white shark. These beasts of the ocean are known for their rows of razor-sharp teeth, beady eyes, and relentless need to kill. Although Hollywood has made a mockery out of these creatures, they did get some things right!

Great White Sharks are Oceanic Apex Predators

Great White Shark breaching the water

Great white sharks

are known for attacking their prey from below.

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©Alessandro De Maddalena/Shutterstock.com

The shark’s hunting method heavily relies on ambush and stealth. Hunting sharks can be alerted more than a mile away by the rapid, erratically pulsed, broadband sounds produced by wounded birds and spawning fish at frequencies below 600 hertz.

These animals eat everything from crustaceans, seals, sea birds, and even other sharks! They’re known for attacking from below, where the prey can’t see them coming. Someone filming with a drone caught an amazing interaction between a great white and his targeted prey. 

How Large is the Great White Shark?

Great whites are roughly triple the size of an adult human.

Great whites are roughly triple the size of an adult human.

©Kurzon / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Its massive size makes the great white shark a formidable threat in the seas and oceans of the world. Most female great white sharks range from 15 to 16 feet in length, while surprisingly, males are shorter at 11 to 13 feet long. Great white sharks can grow up to 20 feet long and can weigh around 4,500 pounds.

The largest great white shark known to man is Deep Blue, which measures approximately 20-21 feet long and weighs about 5,000 pounds.

The Pesky Cormorant vs. the Great White Shark

Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) breaching in an attack. Hunting of a Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias). South Africa

Great white sharks sometimes breach to capture a particularly large prey like a seal.

©Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock.com

In the video, we see a bird known as a cormorant enjoying an afternoon on the water. Fish makes up almost all of the diet of cormorants. They use a wide range of aquatic habitats because they are opportunistic predators rather than specialists. While their diet frequently matches the seasonal availability of food at a specific place, they ingest a wide diversity of fish species. 

These birds are known as being quite a nuisance. Through rivalry for nesting sites and the vegetation around those sites, cormorants have a negative influence on fish species and other bird species. 

The cormorant’s detrimental socioeconomic influence comes in second. The cormorant obstructs commercial fisheries, aquaculture businesses, fish-related industries, and water quality.

A Unique Defense Mechanism

Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) eating carp fish

The cormorant is an opportunistic predator that primarily eats fish.

©iStock.com/CreativeNature_nl

You see, these aren’t like any other sea birds and this great white shark learns that the hard way. Cormorants have a special way to ward off predators that’s equally comical and impressive.

There aren’t many animals that can get away from great white sharks unscathed. This bird notices the shark coming closer and closer and decides that it’s time to go to the bathroom. As soon as the murky, white guano begins dispersing, we can quickly see the shark changing directions. 

He swims away from the bird and alas, the cormorant is left to swim in peace. The footage below is lengthy and the interaction between the two animals starts around the 5-minute mark. 

Is It Normal Behavior To Deter A Shark With Poop?

Birds that eat fish: Great Cormorant

The cormorant’s guano is highly acidic and can destroy ground vegetation.

©iStock.com/Richard Constantinoff

For birds using poop as a defense mechanism, it is complicated. It is common for a bird to poop when afraid. It is also possible for smart birds to control when they poop. With the cormorant, a highly intelligent bird is approached by a shark while in the water. This type of bird can’t fly when its wings are wet, so it can’t flee the typical bird way, by flight. The cormorant happens to have highly corrosive poop (it can destroy bridges, for example). With all of these facts, it is likely that the frightened cormorant did, in fact, use its excrement to deter a massive predator. It could be deemed as “normal” behavior. It is also likely the shark literally scared the poop out of it, which, in turn, sent the shark swimming away in fear or disgust!

Other Amazing Animal Videos You Might Like

It’s very rare that any animal manages to outwit and survive a potential attack by a great white shark like the cormorant, but we’ve found a second video that shows another lucky escape!

In this YouTube Short, the shark has its sights set on prey that has no idea it’s being stalked — and it’s not only a human, it’s a child on a boogie board.

It’s an alarming sight to see the great white following behind the child, coming within inches of the boogie board before it turns away and swims off. Fortunately, the shark is a juvenile so it seems that it is merely curious and does not pose a threat to the child. As our article on the video explains, there is a longer video that gives more context to this short clip that shows the child was surrounded by other people in the water and not in danger. Regardless, it is uncommon to see a great white shark leave potential prey alone, making this rare and fascinating footage.


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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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