Shark brains could hold key to attacks

2012-10-30 12:31
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.' (AP)

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.' (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Sydney - 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 in September 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," said Yopak of the research, published in a special edition of the journal Brain, Behaviour and Evolution.

New deterrents

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.

"A shark may recognise a poisonous sea-snake's markings and swim away, for example, and we can use this information to cue a response," she said.

"It's about understanding how their neurobiology affects their [behaviour]."

Yopak is part of a multidisciplinary team at the university's Oceans Institute working towards new commercial repellents.

Most sharks had been found to have brains of the same relative size as mammals or birds, she added, debunking any idea they are "tiny-brained eating machines".

Sharks are common in Australian waters but deadly attacks have previously been rare, with only one of the average 15 incidents a year typically proving fatal.

Experts say the average number of attacks in the country has increased in line with population growth and the popularity of water sports.
Read more on:    marine life
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Camping gear!

We’ve got all your camping must have’s right here at mind blowing low prices. Check them out now!

Herbex – buy 3 & get 1 free!

Fat burn packs, appetite control chewies, stretch mark cream and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

30% off Jinger Jack handbags

Spice up your wardrobe and save 30% on stylish Jinger Jack handbags. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Buy 3 books & pay for 2

The cheapest of the 3 books will be free. Offer valid while stocks last. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

Deal of the week!

Hisense 40” Full HD LED Television now R3999. Offer valid while stocks last. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Mercury has moved into Libra which adds a more social energy to the way you can communicate and connect things. Today is about...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.