ospreys - animals that eat fish

For many animals, fish comes as a supplement food to their diet. Yet, various animals eat fish as a staple part of the diet, and it is an irreplaceable source of food.

Animals that eat fish as the major part of their nutrition are known as piscivores. When translated from the Latin language, piscivore means “fish-eater”.

Today we are going to talk about 18 animals that eat fish as the bulk of their diet. Stick with us, as we are going to uncover some unique fish-hunting techniques together with other interesting facts.

What animals eat fish?

  • Bald Eagles
  • Fishing Spiders
  • North American River Otters
  • Sea Lions
  • Orcas
  • Seagulls
  • Fish-Eating Crocodiles
  • Penguins
  • Tigers
  • Great Blue Herons
  • Pirhanas
  • Fishing Cats
  • Grizzly Bears
  • Ospreys
  • Barracudas
  • Puffins
  • River Dolphins
  • American Minks

18 Animals That Eat Fish

Bald Eagles

bald eagle holding the fish in its talons while flying

Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Class: Aves

Bald eagles are ferocious birds of prey who inhabit different parts of North America. They can be found virtually in any part of water environments with an abundance of fish.

Equipped with sharp talons and exceptional vision ability, getting food for eagles is a piece of cake. They usually do not spend more than a few hours hunting.

To catch fish, eagles fly low, searching for their next victim. Once they spot it, they’ll drop their feet in the water and snatch the prey. Easy meal. Rinse and repeat.

Did You Know: Eagles are able to detect their prey from more than 2 miles away!

Eagles do not necessarily have to eat every day. However, during feasting time, they can eat about one pound of fish in five minutes.

Besides fish, eagles supplement their diet with other birds, mammals, reptiles, and even carrion.

Fishing Spiders

green fishing spider standing on a green leaf

Scientific Name: Dolomedes

Class: Arachnida

Fishing spiders are semi-aquatic large spiders, also referred to as raft spiders and wharf spiders. They usually live in wetland environments, like slow-moving streams and ponds.

These spiders have an amazing way of hunting. Namely, they’ll anchor themselves at the edge of the surface while their front legs are in the water.

Once they are in the hunting position, they’ll wait steadily for the ripple in the water before injecting a venomous cocktail of death to their prey.

Did You Know: Fishing spiders live in every part of the world, except Antarctica!

After immobilizing its prey, fishing spiders would drag the fish on the land to finish their meal. They are able to catch fish that is double their size (1 ounce).

Apart from fish, raft spiders also catch various insects.

North American River Otters

river otter eating fish in the water

Scientific Name: Lontra canadensis

Class: Mammal

River otters are carnivorous predators native to North America. These semi-aquatic creatures are found in a wide range of water habitats.

Even though otters cannot breathe underwater, they can stay submerged for more than 4 minutes and travel for up to 450 yards in a single dive.

Did You Know: Otters are the only marine mammal animals known to use tools!

Utilizing their excellent swimming ability, otters primarily feed on fish, and they are also noted to use cooperation when hunting. Otters usually consume small fish while they are in the water, while the larger fish is eaten onshore.

Besides fish, river otters eat crabs, frogs, water birds, and other aquatic wildlife. Otters hunt up to 12 hours a day, and during that time, they consume 15% to 20% of their total body weight!

Sea Lions

white sea lion swimming in the water

Scientific Name: Otariinae

Class: Mammal

Sea lions are aquatic mammals that live in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere oceans. They are kinds of animals that eat a wide variety of fish, while herring salmon and sardines are being their favorites.

Did You Know: Sea lions can reach swimming speeds of 25-30 miles per hour! 

Sea lions are smart creatures, and they usually hunt in groups when fish is in abundance. Namely, sea lions would herd together a large group of fish (shoal), and capture the ones that are near edges.

On a daily basis, sea lions would eat up to 35 pounds of food (mostly being fish). Aside from fish, they also feed on crabs, clams, squids, and octopuses.

Seagulls

gull holding fish while flying

Scientific Name: Larus argentatus

Class: Aves

Seagulls or simply gulls are opportunistic birds that are found in coastal and water habitats. These annoying scavengers would eat basically anything. From replies, amphibians, mammals, and other birds.

Seagulls daily intake food that is approximately 20% of their total body weight. However, the bulk of their total diet consists of fish.

Did You Know: Seagulls are one of the rare animals on the planet that are able to drink salt water!

When hunting, seagulls rely on their vision to spot their prey before hurtling towards it. They are also widely known for doing the plunge-dive tactics to catch the fish.

They have also been observed doing “bait-fishing”. In other words, gulls would drop pieces of bread in the water to lure fish to come out. Cleaver creatures, huh?

In addition to hunting on their own, seagulls are known as thieves, and they would quite often steal food from humans and other animals.

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Orcas

black and white swimming in the water

Scientific Name: Orcinus orca

Class: Mammal

Orcas or killer whales are dolphin family member species recognized by their black and white body color. Some species feed on fish exclusively, while others eat different water creatures, such as seals, walruses, and other dolphins.

Orcas feed on 30 different fish species, and depending on the size, these fish-eating killer whales devour 500 pounds of fish per day.

Did You Know: Orcas can be found in every ocean in the world!

The feeding orcas hunt both individually and in groups. When hunting in groups, orcas utilize cooperation hunting techniques known as carousel feeding.

Fish-Eating Crocodiles

green crocodile with a long snout

Scientific Name: Gavialis gangeticus

Class: Reptile

The gharial also knows as the fish-eating crocodile characterized by its long and thin snouts suited for catching fish.

As their name suggests, these animals feed primarily on fish; though, they also eat snakes, small mammals, and birds, given the opportunity.

Did You Know: The gharial is one of the longest-living crocodile species!

These crocodiles are well adapted for hunting fish due to their long snouts and sharp teeth. However, the gharial does not chew its food, but instead, it swallows its prey.

Penguins

black and white penguin swimming underwater

 

Scientific Name: Spheniscidae

Class: Aves

Penguins are flightless birds native to the cold southern hemisphere habitats. These aquatic birds spend half of their lives in the water, while the other half is spent on the land.

Penguins are carnivores, and they primarily feed on fish and krill. During the summer, penguins hunt fish more frequently, and they usually intake more food compared to the winter period.

Did You Know: The largest penguin species can grow up to four feet!

When it comes to hunting, the main attribute penguins rely on is their vision and speed. They would dive at around 50 feet below the surface of the water and quickly swim upwards when they detect their prey, using their strong beaks to catch it.

Adult penguins eat 3 to 5 pounds of fish per day. Yet, when preparing for the winter, they can eat twice this much.

Tigers

tiger resting in the water

Scientific Name: Panthera tigris

Class: Mammal

Tigers are the largest members of the cat family, widely recognized by their dark stripes. They are solitary animals who live in various habitats, such as savannas, rainforests, and grasslands.

These big cats have a diverse diet. Besides fish, they eat medium-sized mammals, birds, and even bears and crocodiles.

Did You Know: Tigers can live up to 26 years in the wild!

In the wild, tigers usually consume up to 25 pounds of meat per day (7% of their total body weight). They usually rely on their well-developed smell senses when hunting.

As for the fish, their most common hunting method is based on stunning the fish with their paws. Other than that, tigers are great swimmers, and they won’t hesitate to get wet in order to get food.

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Great Blue Herons

great blue heron eating fish

Scientific Name: Ardea herodias

Class: Aves

The great blue heron is a wading bird that lives in areas near the water habitats of North and Central America. Mangrove swamps, marshes, lake edges, and shorelines are places where these birds can most often be seen.

Blue herons are carnivorous creatures, and the main part of their diet consists of fish, supplemented with crabs, insects, frogs, and even other birds.

Did You Know: The great blue heron is the largest (4 feet tall) heron species!

These birds are pretty skilled in catching fish, using a “beak stab” method. Namely, they’ll stay still and wait patiently for the fish to come in within the range and then use their long neck to pounce quickly and stab the prey with their beak.

Adult herons usually consume more than one pound of fish per day.

Piranhas

blue piranha swimming in the water

Scientific Name: Pygocentrus nattereri

Class: Actinopterygii

Piranhas are omnivores fish native to South America, where they inhabit tropical freshwater. Besides the fish (the bulk of their diet) these predatory fish will also eat different plant food materials.

Equipped with razor-sharp teeth and powerful jaws, piranhas have one of the strongest bites relative to their body size among all vertebrates.

Did You Know: When going after prey, piranhas attack the tail and eyes of their victims!

All piranhas species are described as feeding frenzies, but this is particularly true for red-bellied types. Red-bellied piranhas utilize a high number when defending against predators, as well as for hunting purposes.

The usual daily fish intake does not exceed one-eighth of the total body weight of the piranha.

Fishing Cats

fishing cat walking in the water

Scientific Name: Prionailurus viverrinus

Class: Mammal

The fishing cat is a wild cat that lives in environments along rivers and streams in South Asia. Most cat species hunt land animals, and hate water, but not the fishing cat.

These cats evolved for water habitats, as they have two layers of fur, and webbed feet, which help them swim more efficiently and walk in mud. (source)

Did You Know: The fishing cats are very aggressive, and they have been seen attacking even adult cattle!

Fishing cats are piscivores, and about three-quarters of their diet includes fish. However, besides fish, they occasionally hunt other aquatic creatures like frogs, crabs, and crayfish.

When hunting, the fishing cat will stand on the land near the water and grab the fish directly from the water. They have also been observed diving into the water to capture the prey.

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Grizzly Bears

grizzly bear eating fish

Scientific Name: Ursus arctos horribilis

Class: Mammal

When we talk about animals that feed on fish, we must not forget grizzly bears. These giants occupy forests and woodlands, usually near the rivers and streams.

Bears are omnivores animals, and they eat a wide range of plants, insects, small rodents, and carrion.

Did You Know: Grizzly bears are considered one of the strongest land animals on the planet!

When it comes to catching fish, they use a wide range of tactics.

One method is a sit-and-wait for the fish to swim near them. Another includes diving and catching the fish with their claws of teeth.

They usually eat no more than 25 fish per day. However, when preparing for hibernation, grizzlies eat about 20,000 calories daily!

Osprey

fish hawk holding fish in its talons

Scientific Name: Pandion haliaetus

Class: Aves

The osprey is also known as the fish-hawk is a fish-eating raptor bird that can be found in almost every corner of the world.

As their name suggests, these birds of prey feed on fish almost exclusively. It usually catches fish that weighs from 2 to 7 oz.

Did You Know: Ospreys are one of the most widespread birds of prey in the world!

The fish hawk typically dives into the water with their feet first, relying on their powerful talons to squeeze the fish. Ospreys usually feast on the nearest roost, however, they have also been noted to carry their catch for longer distances.

These fish-eating specialists eat around 80 different species of fresh and saltwater fish.

Barracudas

silver barracuda in the water

Scientific Name: Sphyraena

Class: Ray-finned fish

The barracuda is a saltwater fish recognizable by its scary appearance and ferocious character. The set of their fang-like teeth leave no one indifferent, especially not the divers.

However, despite their fearsome look and predatory instincts, barracudas usually ignore people.

Did You Know: Barracudas can reach swimming speeds of 36mph!

Barracudas eat all kinds of fish, they sometimes eat fish as big as themselves. With the help of their sharp teeth, these predators tear voraciously their prey in half.

Besides their strong jaws and teeth, the main weapon barracudas rely on when hunting is their sight.

Puffins

puffin eating fish

Scientific Name: Fratercula

Class: Aves

Puffins, also known as sea parrots, and clowns of the sea, are recognized by large orange beaks and black and white feathers.

The vast majority of puffin populations live in Iceland. They can also be found in Europe and Northeastern parts of the United States.

Did You Know: Puffins change the color of their beaks in relation to the seasons!

Puffins are piscivores birds that eat a wide range of small fish species. However, the most usual catch includes hake, capelin, and herring.

These small birds will utilize their swimming abilities in order to catch fish. They can dive up to 200 feet deep when searching for their favorite meals.

River Dolphins

Scientific Name: Inia geoffrensis

Class: Mammal

The river dolphin is an aquatic mammal that lives only in certain rivers, which makes them vulnerable species due to natural habitat loss.

These dolphins are distinguished by long snouts (23 inches), much longer than their ocean relatives. Apart from that, river dolphins have smaller eyes and less-developed vision than their marine counterparts.

Did You Know: The river dolphin has the largest brain of any freshwater dolphin species!

River dolphins are piscivores, and they eat more than 50 different fish species, including piranhas. What’s interesting about river dolphins is that they do not use their teeth for chewing; instead, they swallow their prey.

When it comes to hunting, river dolphins also use echolocation to locate food. They produce click noises and wait for the sounds to bounce back from objects (fish) in front of them.

American Minks

Scientific Name: Neovison vison

Class: Mammal

American minks are semi-aquatic carnivores mammals found in Europe, Asia, and North America. These medium-sized mustelids prefer feeding on fish, but they’ll also complement their diet with frogs, birds, and rodents.

Did You Know: Similarly to domestic cats, American minks produce purr sounds when they are happy!

Minks eat fish of various sizes. They are great hunters and usually do not need more than 20 seconds of diving to catch the fish.

The small fish is eaten in the water, while larger prey is usually consumed outside.

American minks have been observed carrying 2-foot fish out of the water, almost identical in size to themselves.

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