Tiger Shark
A young tourist places his hand on the glass of the big blue tank where sand tiger sharks (Carcharhinus Taurus ) and other fish species swim in the Palma Aquarium on the Spanish island of Mallorca August 31, 2011. Reuters/Enrique Calvo

The Great Barrier Reef’s tiger sharks are opting for an easy way out while hunting for preys. They are going for an “easy feast” by feeding on dead turtles. The decade-long tiger shark study has revealed that the predators prefer easy meals than stalking prey. Scientists at Biopixel, Australian Institute of Marine Science and James Cook University said that this study is a world-first that offers great insights into the feeding habits of tiger sharks.

James Cook University and Biopixel researcher Richard Fitzpatrick said that tiger sharks are “inherently lazy” and always look out for the easiest option available to them. The study, published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, revealed that the world's biggest green sea turtle nesting site, Queensland's remote Raine Island, is the favourite hunting ground for Great Barrier Reef tiger sharks.

As per Fitzpatrick, thousands of turtles lay eggs on this island between October and April. At least two adult turtles die every day as a result of this process. This has created a happy hunting ground for tiger sharks and even shaped their migration. Sharks face the risk of injury when chasing live turtles as the turtles have powerful flippers that make it very hard for predators to catch them. Hence, the sharks feast on the dead turtles.

“The turtle carcasses actually set up huge oily slicks on the surface. So the tigers could be swimming quite a distance away and pick up the scent of these rotting carcasses ... Turtles have powerful flippers and it's hard to chase them down. The sharks have learnt to migrate to Raine Island for an easy feast,” Fitzpatrick told the ABC.

The research team that also included scientists from University of Miami, University of Exeter and Queensland environment department spent years tracking these predators. They attached satellite devices to turtle shells and tiger shark fins to track when and where these animals surfaced. For the feast, the sharks swim from as far away as Papua New Guinea and right across the Coral Sea.