The dusky shark is a generalist that takes a wide variety of prey from all levels of the water column, though it favors hunting near the bottom. A large individual can consume over a tenth of its body weight at a single sitting. The bite force exerted by a 2 m (6.6 ft) long dusky shark has been measured at 60 kg (130 lb) over the 2 mm2 (0.0031 in2) area at the tip of a tooth. This is the highest figure thus far measured from any shark, though it also reflects the concentration of force at the tooth tip. Dense aggregations of young sharks, forming in response to feeding opportunities, have been documented in the Indian Ocean.
The known diet of the dusky shark encompasses pelagic fishes, including herring and anchovies, tuna and mackerel, billfish, jacks, needlefish and flyingfish, threadfins, hairtails, lancetfish, and lanternfish; demersal fishes, including mullets, porgies, grunts, and flatheads, eels, lizardfish, cusk eels, gurnards, and flatfish; reef fishes, including barracudas, goatfish, spadefish, groupers, scorpionfish, and porcupinefish; cartilaginous fishes, including dogfish, sawsharks, angel sharks, catsharks, thresher sharks, smoothhounds, smaller requiem sharks, sawfish, guitarfish, skates, stingrays, and butterfly rays; and invertebrates, including cephalopods, decapod crustaceans, barnacles, and sea stars.