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Disney Sharks vs Real Sharks

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Let's compare the shark characters we've seen in Disney movies with the real thing.

Bruce the Great White Shark Finding Nemo Bruce isn’t like other great white sharks: he’s a vegetarian! Would you ever find a vegetarian great white shark in real life? Great white sharks are carnivores: they need meat to survive. These sharks hunt all types of animals like fish, seals, rays, whales, and smaller sharks. They are one of the ocean’s apex predators, so hunting plays a major role in their lives.

Like great whites, the vast majority of shark species are carnivores. The only known omnivorous shark species is the bonnethead shark, whose diet consists of both seagrass and small marine animals. Maybe Bruce would be happier as a bonnethead shark!

Destiny the Whale Shark Finding Dory The term “whale shark” can be a little confusing. From her name, it’s easy to think that Destiny is a whale—she even speaks to them! So what kind of animal is Destiny? In reality, whale sharks are actually a species of shark, not a whale. The key difference to remember is that sharks are classified as fish, while whales are classified as mammals. Whale sharks are the largest of all shark species, with the ability to grow more than 40 feet! Like Destiny, these sharks are incredibly docile and pose no threat to humans. ey have even been nicknamed the “gentle giant” of the ocean. It turns out that Destiny was a shark all along! We still think she’s pretty cool, anyway.

Glut the Great White Shark The Little Mermaid When Ariel and Flounder are out exploring the ocean together, Glut tries to make them his next meal! Would a great white shark chase a human like Ariel in real life? Luckily for Ariel, great white sharks have no interest in eating people (or mermaids). As long as we leave wild sharks alone, humans have nothing to fear from sharing the ocean with them. They’re much more interested in catching fish and small animals than they are in chasing humans. As for Flounder—well, we’re glad he escaped.

Maui the Shark Moana Maui has the ability to transform into different animals, though it doesn’t always go as planned. At one point, he ends up with a shark head! So why are sharks important to this story, anyway? The tale of Moana is based on Polynesian mythology, in which sharks play an important role. According to stories, Moana-Nui-Ka-Lehua was a mermaid goddess with the ability to transform into a shark. Her job was to watch over the Ka’ie’ie Channel alongside two shark gods named Kuna and Kahole-a-Kane, her royal guards. Many of us think of sharks as the blood-thirsty villains in horror movies, but sharks play a completely different role in other culture’s stories. In Polynesian mythology, sharks were animals to be respected, not feared.


Disney movies are a great place to learn about sharks! However, there’s always more to the story when it comes to real sharks and our relationships with them. If you want to learn more fun facts about sharks, visit

——— Sources Fisheries, NOAA. “White Shark.” NOAA, 18 Feb. 2023, %20diverse%20and%20opportunistic%20diet%20of,also%20occasionally%20scavenge%20 dead%20whales.

“Great White Sharks: Dangerous Man-Eaters or Marine Marvels?” Natural History Museum, Accessed 15 Sept. 2023.

Meram, Christine. “e Legend of Moana-Nui-Ka-Lehua.” History of Mermaids, 9 Aug. 2020,

Niskanen, Niina. “Mermaids in Polynesian Myths & Legends.” Myths and Folklore, Patheos Explore the world’s faith through diferent perspectives on religion and spirituality! Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world., 17 Oct. 2022, nds/.

“Sharks Eat Plants, Too!” Discovery, Accessed 16 Sept. 2023.

“Whale Shark: National Geographic.” Animals, Accessed 15 Sept. 2023.

“Whale Sharks - Gentle Giants.” Galapagos Whale Shark Project, Accessed 16 Sept. 2023.

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