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Sharks slap prey into submission

Last Updated: Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 14:34

London: Thresher sharks resort to sharp overhead "tail slaps" to stun or kill several of the smaller fish at once, a study has revealed.

Dr Simon Oliver, founder of the Thresher Shark Research and Conservation Project and a researcher based at University of Liverpool, filmed pelagic thresher sharks as they hunted off Pescador Island in the Philippines.

They tracked shark activity with handheld video cameras and analyzed 25 instances of tail-slapping to stun prey.

Sharks seemed to initiate the behavior by drawing their pectoral fins inward to lift their posteriors rapidly, followed by tail-slapping forceful enough to stun or kill several prey, and even cause dissolved gases to bubble out of the water.

After a successful hunting event, the mammals ate an average of 3.5 sardines.

For large marine predators, being able to stun more than one prey at a time is likely to be a more efficient means to hunt than chasing after many small fish in a school

"This extraordinary story highlights the diversity of shark hunting strategies in an ocean where top predators are forced to adapt to the complex evasion behaviours of their ever declining prey ," Dr Oliver, said.

The study was recently published in the open access journal PLOS ONE.


First Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013 - 14:34

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