Bahamas Sharks Reveal Intelligent Behaviour

Wednesday 12th, September 2012 / 09:23 Published by

Juvenile lemon sharks in the Bahamas

Sharks might be able to learn new skills just by watching their friends’ behavior, a new study finds.

In experiments at the Bimini Biological Field Station in the Bahamas, a group of researchers corralled 18 juvenile lemon sharks in a large holding pen and trained some to complete a reward-based task. If the sharks entered a certain area of the pen — called the indicator zone — a target would be exposed on the other side of the pen. Then, if the sharks swam to the target and bumped it, they were given a piece of fish.

In the next phase of the experiments, some untrained sharks were paired with those that had learned how to get the reward, while another naive set was paired with sharks that had not learned the task.

The researchers then tested to see if the inexperienced sharks had picked up their peers’ behavior. They made the task slightly easier, exposing the fish reward once the sharks entered the indicator zone. The researchers found that the sharks paired with trained peers completed the task more quickly and successfully than those with inexperienced partners.

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