Why do Sharks "Yawn?"

Updated: Jul 20, 2021

The mouth gaping or “yawn,” reflects a simulated bite process, including all bite phases, but a lot slower and exaggerated. This looks rather intimidating, but it appears to be no more than a maintenance behaviour, whereby the shark repositions their jaw elements.


A variety of muscles, tendons and ligaments exist between the upper jaw and brain capsule, allowing the shark to evert it’s upper jaw when feeding. Due to the number & complexity of the jaw components, the shark may yawn/gape/stretch it’s jaw to reposition misplaced ligaments.

📸: @leigh_de_necker


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