Do Great White Sharks Enjoy Rock Music?

A 2015 Discovery Channel documentary claimed that great white sharks have a fondness for heavy metal music, theorizing that the sharks' unique sensory systems are finely tuned to detect faint vibrations -- specifically, those produced by struggling fish.

Taking that theory a giant step forward in a major tourism promotion, Airbnb booked the iconic rock band Kiss to perform on a boat off the coast of Australia in November 2019, in order to see how the sharks would react.

Kiss has played music for their enthusiastic fans for over 45 years, but at this extraordinary concert, no sharks showed up. Although the band members had hoped the predators would eat up songs like “Lick It Up” and ”I Want You,” some scientists have suggested that the loud music, which was broadcast for the sharks via underwater speakers, may have been too stressful for them, as well as other marine life in the vicinity.

Luckily, there were also (human) music fans in attendance, although far fewer than a typical Kiss concert. Along with members of the media, eight people had paid for the Airbnb experience, which also included guided observation of marine life with the help of an expert conservationist.

Maybe try jazz next time:

  • Sharks hear sound through a hole on each side of their head, which open into an inner ear. They also have a sensory system that includes a hair-activated canal that runs through a sharks's body and is connected to pores in the skin.

  • Large sharks are especially sensitive to pulsing, low-frequency sounds, maybe because these sounds mimic the noises made by a prey in distress, the journal Science has reported.

  • Australian research in 2018 reported that sharks can recognize the sound of a jazz song. Five of the eight sharks the researchers tested learned to respond to the music by swimming to a corner of their tank to receive a food reward.

More Info: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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