White sharks exploit the sun during predatory approaches — ASN Events

White sharks exploit the sun during predatory approaches (#255)

Charlie Huveneers 1 , Dirk Holman 1 , Rachel Robbins 2 , Andrew Fox 2 , John A Endler 3 , Alex H Taylor 4
  1. School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, Bedford Park, SA, Australia
  2. National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo, Japan
  3. Fisheries and Aquaculture Centre, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  4. School of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

There is no conclusive evidence of any non-human animal using the Sun as part of its predation strategy. Here, we show that the world’s largest predatory fish, the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), exploits the Sun when approaching baits by positioning the Sun directly behind them. On sunny days, sharks reversed their direction of approach along an east-west axis from morning to afternoon, but had uniformly distributed approach directions during overcast conditions. These results show that white sharks have sufficient behavioral flexibility to exploit fluctuating environmental features when predating. This sun-tracking predation strategy has a number of potential functional roles including improvement of prey detection, avoidance of retinal over-stimulation, and predator concealment.