Environment

Sharks are more human-like than we think as species found to form friendships

The grey reef sharks have social groups and form bonds together.

We’ve seen the affection that dogs, cats, horses, and even cows can give each other. But when it comes to sharks, not so much.

With their taste for blood, the predators of the sea tend to be depicted much like their Hollywood portrayal in the infamous Jaws films.

However, it seems the Grey Reef Sharks are actually kind of friendly and it has been discovered that they form long-lasting companions.

[Credit: Tomas Gonzalez]

So much so, that they hang out in cliques together à la Mean Girls.

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The discovery came to light in Florida, United States after a team of scientists found that the sharks socialised in the same groups of around 20 animals for years, rarely mixing with the presence of 8,000 other sharks that also surround the local waters.

Speaking about the project, one of the team members Yannis Papastamatiou said: “We don’t think of sharks as social animals, but they do have social groups.”

[Credit: David Clode]

Yannis was, however, hesitant on calling the sharks ‘friends’, and speaking to New Scientist said their bond may be a little closer to what humans would call ‘associates’.

It is believed the sharks congregate in their favoured ‘associations’ for organised hunts, and also to support each other should one shark try to attack but fail meaning their ‘associates’ would step in with an opportunity to follow-up and catch the prey.

The Grey Reef Shark is one of the most common reef sharks in the Indo-Pacific, often found as far east as Easter Island in Chile and as far west as South Africa.

[Credit: Chris Bayer]

Averaging 6ft in length, they have a streamlined body with a long, blunt snout and large, round eyes with both the upper and lower jaws each boasting 14 teeth.

The sharks can have an aggressive demeanour, enabling them to dominate many other shark species, and they can be a threat to humans especially if cornered by divers.

So, maybe think twice before snapping a selfie in your scuba session.

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