Experiments

Do flashlights really attract sharks?

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Jaws II."
DCL

Finding: CONFIRMED

Explanation: Sharks easily get a buzz from even the slightest electric current. Specialized pores dotted around their snouts are filled with conductive jelly that allows them to hunt down prey by merely detecting electric pulses.

But according to some MythBusters fans, sharks' electroreceptive sixth sense can sometimes lead them astray. Scuba divers have reported that flashlights used for night dives will attract nearby sharks, because the fish mistake the gadgets' electromagnetic fields for prey signals.

To get to the bottom of this myth, Kari Byron, Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci first went for a frightening swim in the dark with sharks to see if aquatic predators came sniffing around. Drifting in the inky open waters without flashlights, the scattered trio encountered only six sharks.

The next night at the same dive site, the MythBusters — this time outfitted with flashlights — attracted far more attention. In fact, so many sharks scuttled toward the lit-up divers that the MythBusters exited the water early for safety reasons.

The sharks' attraction to the flashlights' electric signals shone bright as day, clearly confirming the scuba divers' theory.

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