All the movies show sharks swimming right-side-up, but new research indicates that Hollywood has once again shown to be portraying the natural world in a way that doesn’t actually exist.
In a study published in the journal Nature, scientists learned that great hammerhead sharks, as well as many other species of sharks, actually swim on their sides up to 90% of the time.
Image Credit: R. Snow/ABC News
At varying angles between 50-75º, the sharks use this swimming method to reduce drag and save energy to make their swimming technique more efficient. This allows them to swim for longer periods of time.
Swimming in such a way allows the sharks to use their fins in a different way in order to save up to 10% more of their energy to put towards additional travel.
The data was gathered by cameras that showed the sharks swimming on their sides rather than upright, as well as equipment tethered to the large fish that could measure energy efficiency.
It was originally thought that the swimming behavior was due to an illness, or the sharks not having a proper state of mind, but as the observations became more and more common among observations in the study, it became obvious that this wasn’t the case.
"It quickly became clear that side-swimming is a reasonably common behavior in this species," said Dr Nicholas Payne, from the University of Roehampton. “Great hammerheads in public aquaria even do it. It is a fascinating solution to minimizing travel costs.
"Unfortunately, hammerhead sharks are disappearing from our oceans at an alarming rate, so observing them in the wild is increasingly difficult. Our finding highlights how much we still have to learn about our ocean's predators."
Although it’s getting harder to study hammerhead sharks due to their shrinking numbers, collecting this data can help us better understand the species behavior to get a better understanding of underwater aerodynamics.
Source: ABC News