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Sand Tiger Sharks: More Social Than Scientists Suspected?

Last month, I wrote about the social capabilities of Port Jackson sharks. Though it’s somewhat simple to imagine small, cuddly Port Jacksons congregating and socializing, it may be much more difficult to imagine toothy, considerably sized Sand tiger sharks interacting in the same way

After all, this photo doesn’t scream conventionally cute and friendly does it?

However, new evidence suggests that Sand tiger sharks are more social than previously thought. In a recent post, Discovery News describes a recent study from University of Delaware scientists that uncovers Sand tiger interaction in the open ocean. Though researchers have explored shark interactions in contained environments in the past, this study provided the first piece of evidence indicating that Sand tiger sharks are sociable in their natural environment. To gather data, scientists attached acoustic tags to over three hundred Sand tiger sharks and tracked their movement patters for about a year. Their conclusions are described by Discovery News:

“The scientists conducted initial data analysis from two individual animals, and found that the sharks enjoyed an active social life year-round. They registered almost 200 encounters with other sand tiger sharks, and interacted repeatedly with the same individuals. The sharks also formed groups that varied in size depending on their location and the time of year.”

Though Sand tiger sharks may need to congregate for mating purposes, and thus for survival, clearly their interactions extend far beyond the basic sociability necessary for survival. In fact, these frequent interactions seem to suggest that sharks are more similar to humans than previously imagined! Studies like these help us to protect sharks by identifying their critical habitats and behavioral patters. Moreover, this study provides evidence that can help humans further identify with sharks and dispel negative myths that cause us to fear them.

Hopefully studies like these will continue to encourage more and more people to respect and appreciate these amazing creatures.