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The secret social lives of sharks

The secret social lives of sharks

July 21, 2023 at 10:19am

Great white sharks gather seasonally around Mexico’s Guadalupe Island – and some like to hang out together, according to research led by FIU marine scientist Yannis Papastamatiou.

Getting a rare glimpse of a “day in the life” of these sharks required some inventiveness. Papastamatiou, Ph.D. candidate Sarah Luongo, undergraduate student Seiko Hosoki and a team of researchers relied on a combination of innovative tracking technology, including a “super social tag” equipped with a video camera, an array of sensors, as well as receivers capable of detecting other tagged sharks nearby. Data showed several sharks formed non-random social associations and tended to spend time together when patrolling for food.

One of the world’s leading shark behavioral ecologists, Papastamatiou has studied the sociality of other shark species and noticed a link between sociality and the ability to take advantage of another shark’s hunting success and believes the same thing may be happening at Guadalupe Island.

FIU is ranked No. 2 in the world for positive impact on life below water by The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings.