Sharks have always been one of nature’s wonders. Feared yet fascinating, frightening yet elegant. Experts around the world believe that these creatures are more than just the vicious animals they are known to be. No wonder many devote their lives to studying them. Out of this very need scientists have developed a method to experience their world from their own eyes and see the world as a shark does.
To accomplish the task a device was put together that incorporated several cameras, a very high frequency (VHF) transmitters and sensors. The device was then strapped onto the sharks by flipping them over and placing the device onto the sharks. Placing the sharks on their backs momentarily puts them into a trance like state. This helped the researchers carefully and safely place the devices onto the sharks. As easy as it was to set the device up, getting it back was not much trouble either. Sharks eventually shed the device which researchers were later able to collect.
Almost 30 various shark species were used for the study. These included tiger sharks, Galapagos sharks, bluntnose sixgill sharks prickly sharks and sandbar sharks. After the device was strapped on, the sharks were released back into the ocean so that they could return to their natural habitats.
Carl Meyer, an assistant researcher at Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, said that this setup would help biologists record data that was previously not possible. This would also help understand and learn why a shark does what it does. The videos and images from the device did indeed reveal a few interesting facts about these predators of the sea. The data revealed that most sharks traveled in groups, as opposed to the previous notion of them being lone hunters. Apparently even sharks have creatures that they fear, bigger sharks. From the results, scientists believe that smaller species of sharks might travel in groups to protect themselves from the stronger ones in the same area.
Another interesting observation was that sharks deep in the sea swam relatively slower than shallow water sharks. Experiencing the world from the eyes of a shark better helps uncover the secrets that surround these mysterious creatures. But more than that, it provides a way to preserve the already deteriorating shark population in the world. The International Union for Conservation of Nature revealed a report earlier this year that stated a quarter of the shark and ray species were on the brink of extinction.
If somehow their habits and patterns can be observed and predicted then maybe an effort to preserve their numbers can be made. To further explore a shark’s involvement in the ecosystem, Meyer has been working on an indigestible package that would help study a shark’s eating pattern. Meyer said it is important to dig deeper into the ecological role of a shark in the ocean. This will not only benefit the ocean, but in a way, our own well-being as well.
The idea of attaching cameras to animals under observation surely has gained attention in the past few weeks. The same concept was applied when a camera was attached to the beak of a pelican. This helped capture the beak-eye view of a flying pelican. It is said that to truly understand someone, the world has to be seen from their shoes. Similarly to understand how an animal thinks, the world has to be seen from their eyes, just as it was done for the shark.
By Hammad Ali