Making Sense of Senses: How Pelagic Sharks Find Prey - by former intern Shane White

When asked to name senses, most people would describe the five we can relate to: sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. These senses help us interpret our surroundings and react accordingly. However, if you live in the open ocean, your senses won’t be the exact same due to differences in environmental obstacles you need to overcome in order to pinpoint where food is, a process called prey localization. This article will discuss the processes of how a shark would close in on a distant food source using its array of senses. Although the use and efficiency of these senses vary from species to species, the characteristics and sensory distances depicted in this article are most representative of pelagic sharks. Pelagic species are those that live in the open ocean and tend to travel longer distances for reproduction or feeding purposes, including oceanic whitetips (Carcharhinus longimanus), shortfin mako sharks (Isurus oxyrhincus), and great hammerheads (Sphyrna mokarran) which are found in the coastal waters of Bimini from January to April (Figure 1).