Mote study: Sharks sense prey in surprising ways

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SARASOTA, Fla. - A new study six years in the making was released Wednesday from Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota. The study was part of a half million dollar grant funded by the National Science Foundation.

Three types of sharks were observed to see what senses they use while catching prey: the nurse shark, the blacktip, and bonnetheads.

It turns out sharks have five senses: sight, touch, smell, lateral lines and electroception. And they can use any of their senses to hunt.

“We found that it doesn't just come down to one sense. They are using different senses at different distances from the source. And the other interesting thing is that they are very flexible. So even if they are missing their preferred cue, they can sometimes switch to an alternate sensory cue to accomplish the behavior,” says Mote post-doctoral fellow Jayne Gardiner.

The complete study can be viewed HERE.

Gardiner says next she plans to research how sharks go back to the area they were born to reproduce. Sharks travel very long distances and find the exact location, and researchers want to know exactly how that is done.