Shark Embryos Can Sense & React to Danger

Written by on January 11, 2013 in Marine Life, Sharks
Juvenile brownbanded bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum).

Juvenile brown-banded bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum). Photo credit: Stephen Childs.

Researchers recently found that sharks can sense danger while still developing in their egg cases. This discovery could help researchers develop an effective shark repellent.

Embryonic sharks can sense the electric field of potential predators, explained lead author marine neuroecologist Ryan Kempster from the University of Western Australia (UWA)’s Oceans Institute. The young sharks (in this case, brown-banded bamboo sharks) remain very still, even stopping gill movement, to avoid being detected.

“This is the first study that shows a shark embryo’s ability to detect and ‘hide’ from a predator by staying completely still and stopping its breathing,” Kempster said.

“Despite being confined to a very small space within an egg case where they are vulnerable to predators, embryonic sharks are able to recognise dangerous stimuli and react with an innate avoidance response,” he explained. “This knowledge may help us to develop effective shark repellents.”

Watch the following video to learn a little more about brown-banded bamboo sharks and see the experiment in action–it’s amazing!

To learn more:

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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