Shark brains may hold key to attacks
SYDNEY - Agence France-Presse
New discovery could be crucial to developing ‘repellents’ for the great white sharks.Shark brains have been found to share several features with those of humans, a discovery which Australian researchers believe could be crucial to developing “repellents” for the killer great white species.
Great white sharks, otherwise known as white pointers and made famous by the horror movie “Jaws,” have killed an unprecedented number of surfers and swimmers off Australia’s west coast in the past year.
The government last month announced a new catch-and-kill policy for sharks that stray too close to beaches after five fatalities in 10 months. But it is also funding research into other measures, including technology to repel them.
University of Western Australia shark researcher Kara Yopak, who has dissected the brains of more than 150 species, said new studies of the great white shark’s brain had revealed important similarities to human brains.
“Great white sharks have quite large parts of the brain associated with their visual input, with implications for them being much more receptive to repellents targeting visual markers,” Yopak told AFP of the research.
Most repellents now on the market target the electrosensitive pores on a shark’s head which are used to detect the weak currents emitted by prey, by sending a strong electrical signal to drive them away.
Yopak said studies found this technology could be effective but failed to repel great whites in all cases. Understanding how their brains work could be vital to developing new deterrents, which could be something as simple as marking patterns on surfboards and wetsuits.