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Free Content Use of Sound in Predation by Young Lemon Sharks, Negaprion Brevirostris (Poey)

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Relatively little information is available concerning the biological significance of sensory capabilities to fishes. This study was directed at determining the role of hearing in predation by young lemon sharks. It consisted of the following stages: (1) a test site was established in Biscayne Bay, Florida, where sharks were common during much of the year; (2) the relative importance of various local organisms as prey was determined from analyses of stomach contents; (3) sounds produced by prey, and other common species, were recorded and analyzed; (4) acoustic attenuation rates at the site were established; (5) mean ambient noise levels were determined; (6) biological and instrumental sounds were played back at the site, and associated responses of sharks were observed.

Responses to various sounds, and during control periods, were compared and their relative attractiveness was statistically analyzed. Differences were evident, but were not entirely related to the importance of the source as prey.

I noted maximum distances at which sharks responded to attractive signals, and determined the associated signal-to-noise levels. These were compared to thresholds obtained in the laboratory, and excellent agreement was noted.

Sharks detected biological sounds only when within 5 meters of the source. This limit was determined both by the rapid attenuation rates prevailing, and by low signal levels associated with the small size of natural prey. However, auditory detection distances generally did exceed the estimated visual range. The experimental results and observations made during this study indicate that hearing is useful in alerting sharks to the presence and location of prey.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 1972

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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