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Sharks Have Personality

June 29, 2016

Sharks Have Personality

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Rhett Butler Rhett Butler

Sharks often get a bad rap as voracious killers. In reality, only a handful of species are considered dangerous to humans, and unprovoked attacks are exceedingly rare.

Part of the problem may be peoples’ tendency to generalize: the attributes of a great white (above) may be applied to all sharks, even harmless ones. But new research suggests that sharks are quite unique even among individuals within a single species. Yes, individual sharks have their own personalities.

A study carried out by scientists from Australia’s Macquarie University documented “personality traits” among Port Jackson sharks, a species found off southeastern Australia. They found each individual had a distinct level of “boldness” that remained consistent across four repeated trials. Bolder sharks showed higher stress tolerance when being handled.

Macquarie University professor Culum Brown, one of the study’s co-authors, said the findings “demonstrate that sharks are not just mindless machines.”

“Just like humans, each shark is an individual with its unique preferences and behaviors,” according to Brown.

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