Photo: Karen Neri via Unsplash
What familiarity do sharks have with serial killers? Advanced hunting skills, simple. According to research, observers have discovered that sharks hunt in a highly attentive fashion, just like serial killers.
Predation is one of nature's fundamental and fascinating interactions, and sharks are some of the most powerful predators on the planet. However, their hunting habit is hard to study because one can rarely observe it in the wild. As a consequence, sharks' predatory personality remains an enigma. Now, observers worldwide are employing geographic profiling - a criminal investigation mechanism used for tracking a connected series of criminal events and locating where serial criminals hide - to investigate the predation patterns of sharks.
Researchers used this technique to analyze the predatory communications between sharks and Brown fur seals. They discovered that sharks have a well-defined search base for predation, but not where the opportunities for prey self-defense were greatest. Alternatively, the attacks seemed to be carried out at strategic places that could provide a balance of prey observation, capture rates, and sharks fighting over prey.
The research expands my awareness of how large predators chase and provides a new scientific citation for studying other predator-prey scenarios.
Sharks are top-of-the-food-chain predators, so studies of shark hunting manners are essential for comprehending their ecology and role in structuring marine habitats. My desire for more understanding of these captivating animals has become necessary because of recent extreme worldwide population declines.
In an incredible display of strength and acrobatic prowess, some sharks attack prey with an unexpected vertical rush that drives them out of the water. They chase lonely juvenile Brown fur seals when it is a little dark, hunting them from near the water floor to remain unnoticed before embarking on a vertical attack. This approach maximizes a shark's chances of capturing an undetected seal, thus initiating a lethal first hit. Ambush and stealth are vital elements in the shark's hunting strategy.
A team of scientists gathered about 340 natural predatory attack data by sharks on seals. They observed natural predation by sharks since the attacks happened on the surface of the water, where they were seen from far away. The observers discovered that the shark predation patterns at the location were not random. Also, juvenile sharks had more scattered prey hunting patterns and less predatory success rates than adult sharks.
It could mean that sharks improve their preying patterns with experience and concentrate hunting efforts in areas with the highest possibility of successful prey capture. This might suggest that more giant sharks competitively restrict smaller sharks from the ultimate hunting locations.
The geographic profiling study was used for the first time in the marine territory. The technique was initially developed by a prominent scientist at the Texas State University to decide the most probable area for a criminal's anchor point and has been exploited in some high-profile police investigations globally.
Different Sharks Predatory Strategies
I admire many parts of a shark’s lifestyle, but my dearest point of fascination is the variety of hunting strategies they use to catch their prey. This aquatic killer's intelligence, prowess, grace, and stealth are unparalleled on land.
Sharks have highly adjusted predatory strategies that have been sharpened over several years to make sharks some of the most effective predators on the earth.
According to Google, there are 50 types of sharks - great white shark, whale shark, oceanic whitetip shark, spurdogs, zebra shark, Japanese bullhead shark, cookiecutter shark, lemon shark, porbeagle, mackerel shark, cow shark, bull shark, megalodon, nurse shark, sand sharks, saw shark, blacktip shark, blue shark, basking shark, angular rough shark, goblin shark, thresher shark, hammerhead shark, megamouth shark, squatina squatina, blacktip reef shark, tiger shark, requiem shark, frilled shark, shortfin mako shark, sand tiger shark, wobbegong, greenland shark, leopard shark, Caribbean reef shark, spiny dogfish, salmon shark, angel sharks, small-spotted catshark, catshark, sandbar shark, dusky shark, dogfish sharks, bluntnose sixgill shark, heterodontus, whitetip reef shark, dwarf lantern shark, ground sharks, silky shark, and river shark.
There's something missing from that list, though, and that's Gage Beasley's Blue Shark Soft Stuffed Plush Toy! How could you miss one of the best and friendliest sharks out there (and out the waters)?
Though, I have only studied the predatory strategies of only 5 of them. Here is my perception of the fascinating shark hunting strategies.
Thresher Shark (Alopias)
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Fishermen claimed that for decades thresher sharks used their caudal fin for hunting. They would often find Thresher sharks trapped in their hooks; nevertheless, they were never hooked by any part of their body but by their tail fin. They concluded that the peculiar shape of the Thresher shark’s tail fin was a significant and integral aspect of its hunting strategy, though they were never sure how.
Their caudal fin can make up two-thirds of the entire body length. In the last few decades, observers have just witnessed their fantastic hunting strategy in the wild. The sharks can use their caudal fin like a whip to stun their target before capturing it for the kill.
Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)
Photo: Alessandro De Maddalena via Getty Images
Great whites are likely the most famous sharks; maybe that is because almost any film about a killer shark features the great white shark. While some of these Hollywood pictures have led the public to believe these predators kill without tolerance, they are precise and calculating predators.
Great white sharks use two primary hunting strategies; they form a formidable aquatic team when they're together. The first strategy is spy-hopping, predominantly demonstrated in marine mammals like whales and dolphins.
Spy-hopping is when a sea creature raises its head above the sea surface to spy or survey its prey. The white shark is the only shark species that have utilized this tactic. After their spying mission, great white sharks swim below the surface to ambush and await an opportune moment to capture their prey.
To seize fast-moving aquatic mammals, great white sharks swim at tremendous speeds and blast through the water's surface. This practice is known as breaching, and it’s most remarkable when considering the size of these killer machines.
Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas)
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The bull shark is a contender in most fascinating hunting techniques. One of the principal reasons for this is its increased hunting ground; it’s a shark species that often hunt in freshwater.
Bull sharks use a technique called the bump and bite when hunting. Bull sharks leverage their massive body weight to drive themselves into their prey to weaken and kill it; before the target can recover, the bull shark will attack.
Their remarkable ability to adapt to freshwater habitats means they also have access to a wide range of prey, from sloths to hippos. They are highly territorial, so they are offenders regarding shark attacks on humans.
Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)
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Whale sharks get pride as the largest fish species in the wild. While they can grow beyond 40 feet in length, it is funny that their choice food is plankton, krill, algae, shrimp, etc. That’s true; this gigantic marine animal feasts on tiny creatures.
Speaking of gigantic animals, why don't we introduce you to a gigantic shark... but in plushie form! Gage Beasley's Giant Shark Soft Stuffed Plush Toy is just that—a giant, huggable shark plushie. However, it's everything you need it to be: a bed-side friend, a huggable pillow, and a rather dazzling room decoration.
As filter feeders, they swim through their habitat with their gobs wide open to filter out these tasty little creatures and other small fishes that make their way into their mouths. They can gobble a massive number of these fishes since they can open their mouth up to five feet wide, so they feast on a lot often.
Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus)
Photo: Alessandro De Maddalena via Getty Images
Mako sharks are technically endothermic shark species. They can maintain a relatively high internal body temperature, up to 10 degrees above the water. This increased body temperature gives them the energy to maintain a steady swimming speed of up to 70mph. The regularity of their caudal fin also helps in maintaining these high speeds.
As a result of this unique adaptation, they are the speediest shark species, making them a deadly predator. Though they eat several oceanic animals, including cephalopods, sea turtles, and dolphins, they can also hunt down some of the fastest school of fish in the sea, like swordfish and tuna.
Conclusively, the various shark hunting strategies are based on my observations and research. However, I only covered five of the strategies in the article. If you have any ideas or additional strategies, please add them in the comment section.