Studying Sharks’ Social Lives to Expose Their Friendly Side

Exciting news! Our colaboration with Taronga Zoo has recently featured an article at The New York Times

Culum Brown, the Principal Investigator of the BEEF lab and assistant professor at Macquarie University, and Jo Day, a research and conservation coordinator at Taronga Zoo and his former student, spoke to NYTimes journalists about our Sydney PJ sharks.

The bigger project started four years ago in Jervis Bay. The main idea was to look at the sharks' social behaviour and interactions and see wether they get together as a consequence of suitable habitat or resources, or if they are actively being social and gather with specific sharks.

In 2015, a joint project started between the research team and Taronga Zoo and ten sharks were housed at the Zoo in September. This project aims at having a controlled testing of hypothesis about their social preferences, but at the same time raising awareness about their social complexity and intelligence. We also used accelerometers and video cameras to look at their daily habits in detail.

“The general feeling is that sharks are robots — that they’re antisocial and they go around munching and killing things,” Dr. Brown said. “Nobody knows about the social lives of sharks because it’s notoriously hard to track them.”

We were very pleased to see that the PJ exhibit at Taronga Zoo was very well received by the public, especially the kids. Hopefully, this is a partnership to maintain over the next years!

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