‘Black Box’ Reveals Why Sharks Hunt at Night

posted: 06/12/15
by: Danny Clemens
Silvertip shark swims in the ocean. Carcharhinus algimarginatus. Rangiroa, French Polynesia.
Jeff Foott/DCL

This is seriously cool: researchers from England's University of St. Andrews outfitted sharks in a remote Pacific atoll will small "black boxes" that measure their activity throughout the day. The black boxes were inspired by similar devices used on airplanes, which record crucial data from each plane's onboard computers.

The small boxes measured both the sharks' vital signs (body temperature, digestion activity, etc.) and their movements, revealing interesting information about shark hunting habits.

Sharks tend to hunt during the early evening, when their night vision is at its prime. Researchers believe that shark body temperature plays a crucial role in hunting habits: around dusk, shark bodies are warmer than those of their prey, giving them a useful hunting advantage.

"The use of these technologies allows us to determine why animals in the wild behave the way they do," said Dr. Yannis Papastamatiou, who penned a study about the data gathered from the black boxes. "'Black-box' technology allows us to reveal the secret lives of sharks."

Click here to read Papastamatiou's research in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.

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