Sharks with cameras bring us home movies of their daily lives

Scientists have been tracking the way sharks move using RFID tags for years, and we've even taught them how to use social media, but until recently we haven't actually been able to see the way they behave when there aren't any humans around.

A group of researchers in Hawaii have fixed that, by equipping sharks with video cameras, and then letting them go do their thing. The cameras were attached to one fin near the shark's body, so the setup might not be exactly how Dr. Evil might have done it, but it seems to have done the trick.

The joint team from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa and the University of Tokyo learned that sharks don't swim quite how scientists have long believed. When sharks are underwater, it has generally been thought that they do very little actual swimming, and merely move around using long slow gliding motions. The video shows that they actively use their tail fins to propel themselves along, swimming in repetitive circles and figure eight patterns.

The various species of shark have no problem hanging out together, although as the very top of the food chain, anything else in their path tends to make a beeline to get out of their way. They also found that how quickly they move depends on how deep they swim, with the species that hang nearer to the surface moving about faster than their deep sea brethren.

The team also used sensors that they would get the sharks to swallow, which were used to track the types and amounts of food they ingested. This revealed new information about the shark's digestion process, and how much they can eat at once. Researcher Carl Meyer said that this data, along with the video footage, give them new insight into the shark's role in the oceanic ecosystem. This can then be used to help guide future ecological efforts, and even to help us learn new ways to enhance public safety by avoiding shark attacks.

Check out the video to see how the cameras were attached, and some of the underwater shark's-eye-view footage.

University Of Hawaii, via Time Magazine

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