Social Shark

A grey reef shark's head, dorsal fin, and pectoral fin with some blurred rocks in the background


Social butterfly… or social SHARK?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

The shark in “Jaws” was depicted as a lone, ferocious predator. But could sharks actually have FRIENDS?

Yannis Papastamatiou, David Jacoby and colleagues dove into shark-infested waters to find out. They put radio
transmitters and cameras on about forty reef sharks and tracked them for four years.

Using these trackers and videos, they figured out who was hanging out with who. The researchers then used computer models to create social connection maps — kind of like a shark Facebook!

And? Sharks DO have friends! Sharks had meetups from morning to afternoon. Their social groups had up to fourteen members that stayed together during all FOUR years!

Sharks are social animals… just like us! As a group, they’re better hunters. BFF’s tell each other everything – even where to find the good chum. Get it…CHUM?

Sharks aren’t as scary as we think. After all, they’re just friends hanging out! And attacking summer beachgoers in Amity Island. No! That was just the one.

Reference: Papastamatiou, Y. P., Bodey, T. W., Caselle, J. E., Bradley, D., Freeman, R., Friedlander, A. M., & Jacoby, D. M. P. (2020). Multiyear social stability and social information use in reef sharks with diel fission–fusion dynamics. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 287(1932), 20201063.