Researchers from the Macquarie University started an unusual study involving sharks living in Port Jackson, Australia. The results of the experiments showed that sharks have unique responses when faced with stress or unfamiliar environments.
Sharks are a vital part of the ecosystem. Scientists started to study them because they are one of the top predators in marine areas, and a decline in their population can lead to chain modifications in other types of species.
Starting with the year 2000, the US has continuously released regulations concerning shark protection. The Shark Conservation Act was signed into law in 2011, and since then shark fin trade was banned in several states. Statistics say that almost 100 million sharks are killed by humans each year.
Conservation measures work best if they are founded on scientific grounds. Thus, the Australian researchers wanted to see whether or not sharks have individual behaviors or act entirely instinctive and without any regards to their previous experience or particularities.
In order to test the boldness of sharks, the scientists introduced the sharks in a tank and measured the time each one of them took to exit the shelter and explore the new environment.
Another test was to expose the animals to stress before releasing them. Afterward, the scientists measured the time sharks needed to recover from a traumatic experience.
The behaviors were similar each time the situation was replicated. Researchers concluded that behaviors were ingrained and not hazardous reactions. The sharks which reacted violently in the first experiment were more likely to show the same behavior in the following test.
Scientists say that the findings are significant because they show sharks are not mindless machines. Each has unique behaviors and preferences sets that may be described as a personality.
The implications of the findings relate to shark populations and their organization. If there are differences in behavior among individuals, then the habitat use, activity levels, and prey choices can be more sophisticated than it was initially thought.
Sharks are a group of fish that have a cartilaginous skeleton, gill slits, and five to seven pectoral fins.
The cartilaginous skeleton is less dense than a bone one, which helps the shark to save energy. The jaws are not attached to their skull. The dorsal portion of the fin is larger than the ventral portion, and the vertebral column extends to the dorsal which provides a greater surface for muscle attachment.
There are approximately 500 species of sharks in the world.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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