Hammerhead Sharks Hold Their Breath to Conserve Body Heat

Researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa have found that hammerhead sharks close their gills and hold their breath to keep their body temperature up while diving into cold waters to hunt :

“This was a complete surprise!” said Mark Royer, lead author and researcher with the Shark Research Group at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) in the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. “It was unexpected for sharks to hold their breath to hunt like a diving marine mammal. It is an extraordinary behavior from an incredible animal.”

NPR points readers to an important note:

Scalloped hammerheads may not be the only ones doing this. “This strategy could be widespread,” write Mark Meekan and Adrian Gleiss, two Australian marine scientists not affiliated with the study, in an accompanying commentary on the new research.

The work, they wrote, is another example of how new electronic tags and sensors are helping to explain “the extraordinary persistence of these animals across 400 million years of changing ocean environments.”

Read more from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, NPR and here’s a link to the published research


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