Testing the force of a shark's bite

Jul 31, 2007

Scientists are building a three dimensional computer model to test the ‘bite force’ of the Great White shark using data from a shark caught in beach nets off Australia's NSW Central Coast.

The 2.4 metre long Great White shark was stored at the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Cronulla Fisheries Research Centre of Excellence until researchers were ready to analyse its jaw and facial muscles last week.

A collaborative project involving NSW DPI, the Universities of NSW, Newcastle and Tampa, Florida, and led by Dr Stephen Wroe aims to reveal the cranial mechanics, bite force and feeding behaviour in the Great White Shark using high resolution 3-D computer simulations.

Last week Dr Wroe and his team dissected the five year old shark and measured the structure of its jaw and the muscles used in biting.

Underwater experiments with live sharks fail to adequately indicate the force of the Great White’s bite, and the sharks have been known to bite through materials that require much greater force than that so far observed in situ.

According to NSW DPI shark scientist, Denis Reid, sharks generally test bite before applying a full-force bite.

"The test bite has much less force", he said.

The approach being taken in this project involves determining the maximum forces that Great Whites can exert using advanced mathematical and computing methods that were originally developed for the calculation of stresses in structures such as bridges.

The collaborating investigator in the project for NSW DPI, Dr Michael Lowry, said one of the project aims is to identify the shark species responsible for damage to submarine cables and towed arrays.

"Measurement of bite forces will help in testing and developing materials suitable for cabling and sensory equipment used in the marine environment."

US shark biologist Dan Huber is working with the Australian team to learn whether sharks such as the Great White are responsible for damaging submarine cables and communication systems on US Navy submarines.

Source: New South Wales Department of Primary Industries

Explore further: Transparent larvae hide opaque eyes behind reflections

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Research holds key to safer coexistence with sharks

Dec 02, 2013

The recent fatal shark attacks at Gracetown in WA and Coffs Harbour in NSW are a tragedy and our sympathy is extended to the family and friends of the victims and to the surrounding communities. 

The great shark debate: To cull or not to cull?

Oct 22, 2012

The great shark debate continues in Australia as summer approaches. Shark bites on bathers and surfers are a particularly sensitive reality. These are personal and community-wide tragedies that implore us ...

Teenage great white sharks are awkward biters

Dec 02, 2010

The jaws of adolescent great white sharks may be too weak to capture and kill large marine mammals, according to a new study published in the Journal of Biomechanics by an international team of scientists.

Great white's mighty bite revealed

Aug 04, 2008

The bite force of a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) is the highest known for any living species, according to new research to be published in the Journal of Zoology. This is the first time that scientists have e ...

Recommended for you

Transparent larvae hide opaque eyes behind reflections

59 minutes ago

Becoming invisible is probably the ultimate form of camouflage: you don't just blend in, the background shows through you. And this strategy is not as uncommon as you might think. Kathryn Feller, from the University of Maryland ...

Peacock's train is not such a drag

2 hours ago

The magnificent plumage of the peacock may not be quite the sacrifice to love that it appears to be, University of Leeds researchers have discovered.

Iberian pig genome remains unchanged after five centuries

7 hours ago

A team of Spanish researchers have obtained the first partial genome sequence of an ancient pig. Extracted from a sixteenth century pig found at the site of the Montsoriu Castle in Girona, the data obtained indicates that ...

User comments : 0