Elusive Shark Behavior Caught on Camera

For all the shark movies and popular interest in the big predatory fish, science really knows surprisingly little. When large numbers of tiger sharks began populating waters off of Kona on the island of Hawaii, they began planning just how to get a glimpse at what drives them.

After more than a year of research scientists are learning that these sharks move very quickly in a yo-yo type fashion, from the deep, dark depths to the shallow water to catch prey.

For years, scientists have been unable to follow deep-diving open ocean sharks to see how they behave. Until now, marine biologists had a number of theories to explain the sharks yo-yo movement, including energy conservation, navigation while sampling electromagnetic fields, and thermal regulation.

But Carl Meyer at the University of Hawaii has resolved that question by attaching accelerometers to sharks and watching where they go. He found that sharks are hunting when they move from the bottom of the ocean quickly toward the surface. By attaching a digital camera to the dorsal fin, he discovered there were always schools of fish just at the edge of the image area.

Now for real shark fans, Discovery’s Shark Week is just months away. To kick off the annual fish fest, Discovery Channel is holding a video challenge. Now through July 1, submit your 30-second video about how you celebrate Shark Week.

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