Are Sharks Social?

Great White Shark

When most people think of sharks, they think of solitary, mindless killers. However, scientific information about sharks paints a different picture. In fact, sharks are not at all solitary, most species of sharks have some sort of social behavior. Some species are extremely social creatures. Here are some of the most social sharks in our oceans:

Lemon Sharks Have Friends

Lemon Shark

A study conducted in 2009 about Lemon Sharks, show that these sharks have really complex social behaviors. After years of observation, scientists discovered that Lemon Sharks actually make friends with one another. Lemon Sharks typically pick friends that are of a similar size and will then spend time communicating and hunting together. Scientists noted there was no survival advantage to Lemon Sharks hunting together, so they hang out together simply because they enjoy one another’s company.

Sand Tiger Sharks Form Families

Sand Tiger Shark Facts

In 2016, after years of collecting information about sharks, Scientists discovered that Sand Tigers Sharks were extremely social sharks. In fact, they interact with several sharks in their lifetimes and effectively form small family units. Sand Tiger Shark social behavior is comparable to the social behaviors of elephants, gorillas, and dolphins. Basically, they pick a group of other sharks they like of different ages and genders, and then spend their lifetimes going back and forth between hanging with these formed families and solitary hunting.

Spotted Wobbegongs Have Cliques

Japanese Wobbegong

Another study in 2016, found that Spotted Wobbegongs like to form cliques. Spotted Wobbegongs will hang together and compete with other groups of Spotted Wobbegongs. Scientists found that these groupings were not the result of a hunting advantage, the need for protection, or even a shared territory, but because these sharks genuinely prefer the company of the members of their cliques to other Spotted Wobbegongs.

Bonnethead Sharks Share Dining Tips

Bonnethead Shark

Bonnethead Sharks have been observed communicating through complex body language and exerting a fluid called cerebrospinal fluid. Bonnethead Sharks will use these methods of communication to signal to other sharks where there is a bounty of food, specifically their where to find their favorite items: Shellfish and mollusks. Bonnethead Sharks essentially love to share dining tips with each other.

Port Jackson Sharks Go Out To Eat Together

Port Jackson Shark

Another study conducted in 2016, off the coast of Australia, found that Port Jackson Sharks are also a very social species. Port Jackson Sharks were observed as hanging with other Port Jackson sharks of different ages, genders, and sizes. These sharks were almost always hunting and feeding together. The scientists also observed that these sharks would get together in the same locations to eat, rather than just getting together when they bump into each other. So basically Port Jackson Sharks just really like eating together.

White Tip Reef Sharks Sleep All Day And Party All Night

Whitetip Reef Shark

Another interesting piece of information about sharks social behavior discovered in 2016, is that scientists have noted that White Tip Reef Sharks spend most of their lives in packs. At night, they go out together and hunt in groups, show off, and generally party. Then after a long night of activity, they will go back to either a communally-shared reef or a cave and rest together until they do it all again the next night. White Tip Reef Sharks spend most of their lives hanging out together and are one of the most social species of sharks on the planet.

Basking Shark Prefer The Company Of Their Own Gender

Basking Shark Filter

Basking Sharks have been spotted generally swimming in either pairs or groups of threes. However, during popular migratory periods, they will swim in groups of up to one hundred different sharks. What’s really interesting about how Basking Sharks spend their time together is that they always swim with members of the same gender. Female Basking Sharks swim with other female Basking Sharks and male Basking Sharks swim with other male Basking Sharks. They only ever cross gender groups during mating season. Otherwise they prefer the company of their own gender.

Great White Sharks Love To Compete

50 cool facts about great white sharks

A study conducted in 2006, showed that Great White Sharks are incredibly social. They will hunt and share food together, and even spend time with friends. However what Great White Sharks enjoy the most is competition with each other. When two Great White Sharks meet first the first time, they will size each other up and demonstrate shows of dominance. Generally these displays will lead to either lead these Great White Sharks to become “frenemies” or develop a general disinterest in one another. Great White Sharks love competing so much that they’ll choose a little healthy competition and showing off over simply securing food.

Nurse Sharks Chill Together

Nurse Shark

Nurse Sharks are relatively docile sharks, prefer to spend the day hanging out along the seafloor and occasionally swimming to get some food. Nurse Sharks generally spend their time chilling out together and will even form big, cozy cuddle piles. Nurse Sharks are basically the couch potatoes of the shark world and they love to spend their time just chilling out together.

Great Hammerheads Dance With Each Other

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark

Off the coast of Australia, there a dance party going on in the ocean. The Great Hammerhead Sharks love to dance with each other. They’ll swim in circles, shake their heads from side to side, and will twist their bodies to flash each other. Scientists aren’t quite sure why the Great Hammerhead Sharks dance together, they speculate it is either for mating, a show of dominance, a complex form of communication, or they are just generally being playful and having fun with each other. Whatever the reason, these sharks love to dance with each other!

So as you can tell, sharks are actually very social creatures. They make friends, form large social groups, communicate, and even dance! The more information about sharks scientists gather, the most they are surprised to find that the idea that sharks are loners is just a myth. Instead, different species of sharks have different social preferences and behaviors, and most enjoy each other’s company!

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