A new study provides insight into the behavior of small sharks when encountering a common ocean phenomenon known as internal waves. These waves play powerful and still unknown roles in the exchange of heat, energy, water properties and nutrients throughout the ocean, and can change the vertical distribution of animals in the water column.
The study, to be published in the journal Limnology and Oceanography, found that sharks can respond actively to large internal waves, diving deeper and encountering colder temperatures, which has an energetic cost. The research is important to the conservation and management of Squalus acanthias, or dogfish, a once abundant but now globally declining species of shark.
“This is one of the first studies to describe how sharks or other large organisms respond to an internal wave,” said lead author Jesús Pineda, a benthic ecologist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) on Cape Cod. “These sharks are a resource for New England fishermen, but worldwide it is a threatened species. There are many things we don’t understand about their physiology or their distribution. This study helps fill in a piece of the puzzle.”
Read more at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Image: Bands of smooth water alternated with bands of rough water can indicate the presence of an internal wave. CREDIT: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
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