Shark Week – Sharks have ears too! (2)

In response to our most recent newsletter on shark hearing, bioacoustics elder and fish hearing expert Art Popper contacted us to provide a more accurate pedigree on the understanding of shark hearing. While there was observed evidence of shark hearing before the paper was published, shark attraction to particular sounds was first described by Donald Nelson and Samuel Gruber in a 1963 article in Science.

The article noted that “The appearance of sharks in the vicinity of wounded or struggling fish is a phenomenon that has long been noted by fishermen and skin divers” and that they appeared much faster that what could be accounted for in the currents dispersing blood from the wounded fish.

Traditional Spear Fishing

Traditional Spear Fishing

In the study Nelson and Gruber recorded the sound of a speared 12kg black grouper and conditioned this sound to determine what components of the sound sharks found attractive. They used other sounds as well but the sharks were mostly attracted to low frequency pulsed sounds such as those that would come from an animal in physical distress.

Just when you thought it was safe to bring your beat-box into the ocean…