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Studies Finds Port Jackson Sharks Follow Jazz & Hang Out With Their Mates

port jackson sharks shutterstock 681999088

Port Jackson sharks, New South Wales, Australia

It seems sharks are into jazz and like hanging out with their mates.

Researchers at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, have been looking at the behaviour of the locally endemic Port Jackson shark.

One study discovered that the small, bottom-dwelling shark can quickly be trained to associate the sound of jazz music with a food reward.

'Sharks are generally underestimated when it comes to learning abilities – most people see them as mindless, instinctive animals,' said lead author Catarina Vila-Pouca from the Department of Biological Sciences. 

'However, they have really big brains and are obviously much smarter than we give them credit for.'

Another study at the university's Fish Lab has also discovered the species also shows very strong preferences for particular individuals in their social networks over years, and prefer to hang out with others of the same sex and size.

The study, which involved tagging Port Jackson sharks (Heterodontus portusjacksoni), was conducted in Jervis Bay in New South Wales, Australia. 

The bay was chosen because it hosts large seasonal mating aggregations of Port Jackson sharks, where both males and females migrate yearly from their foraging ground in southern Australia to return to the same reef in Jervis Bay to breed.

Proximity loggers were attached to seven individual sharks in 2012, and acoustic receivers, fixed either to the seafloor or to mooring lines in mid-water, allowing for the remote tracking in three dimensions, were deployed in 2012 and 2013.  

The researchers found that when the sharks return to their breeding reefs, they do so with incredible accuracy. 

By using acoustic tags, the researchers were able to identify individual animals when they were within range of a receiver. By analyzing the time-stamps of these receivers, the researchers can tell who hangs out with who and for how long. 

 
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