Featured Image Credit: © Andy Murch
By Sarah Sharkey
Riley Elliott is a shark scientist at the University of Auckland that recently set up an experiment off the coast of New Zealand. The premise was fairly simple, put food out in the middle of the ocean and see who wins the food.
Naturally, sharks started showing up soon after the bait was set. Two small blue sharks arrived first and were happily chowing down. Next, a massive mako shark showed up. This mako was 15 feet long, which is huge. As a general rule, the bigger you are the better you are at hunting because otherwise, you would not have made it that far.
Shockingly, the mako did not scare the little blue shark away. This was surprising even to veteran shark scientists. The young male blue shark had a big enough personality to keep the mako shark at bay. The smaller blue shark wasn’t just wasn’t going to let the mako take his meal. By aggressively pushing the mako shark away, the blue shark was able to eat his meal in peace.
Elliot had this to say about the incident, “What we saw broke a lot of theory in shark behavioral biology that size it the trump card.” The experiment was unique in that the bait attracted more than one species of shark, usually, experiments like this are only able to attract one species at a time. By carefully watching interactions between and among species, scientists are gaining a better understanding of the social dynamics involved between sharks.
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