Sharks Build Social Networks Too [STUDY]

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Sharks apparently have personalities, and their personalities stay the same no matter what environment they’re in, according to scientists. It’s not unusual to find different personalities in animals, although this may be one of the earliest indications that sharks may not be as evil as they’ve been painted to be over the years.

Each shark is unique

In order to learn if sharks do indeed have personalities, researchers from the University of Exeter studied groups of juvenile small spotted catsharks. This variety of shark is found in the Mediterranean Sea and the northeastern part of the Atlantic Ocean. Nature World News reported on the study, which is published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

The researchers watched the sharks and looked for signs of personality traits. Catsharks are known for grouping together. They rest toward the bottom of the seafloor, lying on top of each other and next to each other. For the purposes of the study, scientists defined personality traits as being behavioral processes that are repeated, no matter the time or the place.

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Studying catsharks

Researchers watched ten different groups of sharks in large tanks. The tanks included three different habitats, each of which had differing levels of structure complexity. The scientists noted that no matter which environment the sharks were in, social sharks remained social in all of them.

They said that even the sizes of the groups that formed changed, but “socially well-connected individuals” were still well-connected in all of the habitats they were in. This demonstrated that their positions within the social network were the same, no matter what environment they were in.

Social preferences in sharks

Researchers noted that some sharks seemed to be more social, while others were more antisocial. They also saw that different sharks seemed to have “different strategies for staying safe.” Social sharks grouped with others, while less-social ones “tended to camouflage alone.” They matched the color of their skin with the color of the gravel that was in the bottom of the tan.

 

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