Baby sharks stay still to avoid being detected by predators

January 9, 2013, Public Library of Science
Baby sharks stay still to avoid being detected by predators
This is an image for this citation: Kempster RM, Hart NS, Collin SP (2013) Survival of the Stillest: Predator Avoidance in Shark Embryos. PLoS ONE 8(1): e52551. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052551 Credit: Ryan Kempster

Baby sharks still developing in their egg cases can sense when predators are near, and keep very still to avoid being detected, according to research published January 9 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Ryan Kempster from the University of Western Australia and colleagues.

Adult sharks are known to use highly sensitive receptors to detect electric fields emitted by potential prey. In the current study, researchers found that embryos of some employ similar means to detect potential predators and escape being eaten.

The researchers found that, even within their egg cases, brown-banded bamboo shark can sense electric fields that mimic a predator, and respond by reducing respiratory gill movements to avoid detection. According to the authors, their results suggest that even at these early stages, embryonic sharks can recognize dangers and instinctively try to avoid them.

This is a video clip of a bamboo shark embryo responding to an electrical stimulus by ceasing gill movements. Credit: Citation: Kempster RM, Hart NS, Collin SP (2013) Survival of the Stillest: Predator Avoidance in Shark Embryos. PLoS ONE 8(1): e52551. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052551

Kempster adds, "Despite being confined to a very small space within an egg case where they are vulnerable to predators, embryonic sharks are able to recognise dangerous stimuli and react with an innate avoidance response. Knowledge of such behaviours may help us to develop effective shark repellents."

Explore further: Shark pups open eyes and change fins early

More information: Kempster RM, Hart NS, Collin SP (2013) Survival of the Stillest: Predator Avoidance in Shark Embryos. PLoS ONE 8(1): e52551. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052551

Related Stories

New fishing hook reduces shark catch

June 8, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have developed a new type of fishing hook to reduce the number of sharks accidently caught from commercial fishing. The special hook, called SMART Hook (Selective Magnetic and Repellent-Treated ...

Shark brains could hold key to attacks: study

October 30, 2012

Shark brains have been found to share several features with those of humans, a discovery which Australian researchers believe could be crucial to developing "repellents" for the killer great white species.

As sharks dwindle, new laws enacted

May 28, 2007

Shark fisheries in Mexico and throughout the world are dealing with proposed rules to curb shark hunting in the interest of preserving these predators.

Recommended for you

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

OSIRIS-REx reveals asteroid Bennu has big surprises

March 19, 2019

A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. Bennu also revealed itself ...

Levitating objects with light

March 19, 2019

Researchers at Caltech have designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light, by creating specific nanoscale patterning on the objects' surfaces.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.