Over the last couple of days our blog has featured facts and information about the Sharks of SeaQuest. To learn about the 5 different shark species you’ll find at SeaQuest click the following links. Article 1 / Article 2 Moving forward, we will be discussing why sharks are so important to our oceans.
One of the major ways sharks help our oceans is the way they keep populations of fish, crustaceans, cephalopods and more healthy. Sharks are very efficient predators. They pick their dinner based on the availability and ease of the catch causing them to eat weak, injured or sick fish. How do sharks identify which fish are easy prey? Let’s go over the many senses a shark would use to find their food.
Sense Of Smell:
I’m sure you’ve heard the myth that sharks can smell a single drop of blood in the ocean. While that may be an slight exaggeration, sharks can sense a very small amount of chemicals in vast areas of ocean water. This ability helps sharks find specific schools of fish like tuna which produce oil. Their keen sense of smell also allows them to find injured fish or other prey in the vicinity. Unlike the human nostril, which is used for both smelling and breathing, shark’s nostrils are used exclusively for sense of smell.
Along with a sense of smell, some species of sharks like the White-spotted Bamboo shark have nasal barbels. Resembling a cat’s whiskers, they are located along the snout and are used to sift through sand or murky water to find food. Lined with taste buds these barbels are an excellent advantage when searching for burrowed or hiding prey.
Sense of Hearing:
Located on each side of the head are two small openings containing the inner ears of the shark. Each shark can detect sounds from long distances much longer than any human. This enables them to hear the low frequencies produced by injured prey from great distances.
The ampullae of Lorenzini is an electro-receptive organ in sharks. On the shark’s head are jelly filled pores shaped like ampullae which were jars used by Romans for grains, oils, etc. Every living creature produces an electrical field, the ampullae of Lorenzini allows sharks to detect every living creature in their vicinity through these electrical fields.
Sense of Vibration and Pressure:
Sharks are able to detect vibrations in the water using what is called the lateral line. Starting at their head and running along each side of the body to the tail are tubes and specialized pores. Water enters the pores flowing through the lateral line and stimulating sensory cells that signal changes in vibrations and pressure. This allows them to not only detect prey but to detect danger or predators.
Using these senses, sharks are able to locate weak, injured, or sick fish. As sharks reduce those populations, stronger gene characteristics begin to emerge. If a shark is eating all of the fish that are poor swimmers but leaving fish that are stronger swimmers, eventually the overall fish population will produce stronger swimmers.
Thanks to the world’s shark populations, great benefits can be seen in the overall health of all fish, cephalopod, crustacean and other sea life. With healthy fish comes healthy plant life populations. With fish populations under control, plants and algae can grow at a normal rate.
Bring your friends to SeaQuest today and wow them with your shark knowledge as you adventure through our Shark Lagoon exhibit!
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