Insight & Analysis

Sharks are right on the beat

Great white shark swimming

The ocean’s most ferocious predators reveal a more sophisticated side.

Sharks are apparently partial to a spot of jazz music, if new research from scientists at Australia’s Macquarie University Fish Lab is to be believed.

In recent tests, the scientists found that the fish are able to associate music with food rewards and that jazz music was the most effective in bringing them to the feeding station. The Port Jackson sharks performed less well when being played classical music.

“Sound is really important for aquatic animals; it travels well under water and fish use it to find food, hiding places and even to communicate,” said, Catarina Vila-Pouca, the study’s lead author and member of the university’s department of biological sciences.

“Sharks are generally underestimated when it comes to learning abilities – most people see them as mindless, instinctive animals. However, they have really big brains and are obviously much smarter than we give them credit for. Gaining a better understanding of this will help grow positive public opinion of sharks and may shift public and political will towards their conservation.”

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