VIDEO: The White Stuff: How Brave Fish Use Great White Sharks As Giant Scrubbing Brushes

VIDEO: The White Stuff: How Brave Fish Use Great White Sharks As Giant Scrubbing Brushes

Compact fish that rub their bodies against fantastic white sharks could be exfoliating their skin and striving to get rid of parasites, researchers say.

The risky actions exhibited by the fish could enjoy a substantial ecological job, according to a crew of scientists led by the University of Miami Shark Analysis and Conservation System at the Rosenstiel Faculty of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

“While chafing has been nicely documented amongst fish and inanimate objects, these kinds of as sand or rocky substrate, this shark-chaffing phenomenon seems to be the only state of affairs in nature where by prey actively look for out and rubs up from a predator,” explained Lacey Williams, a UM Rosenstiel University graduate pupil who co-led the review.

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Though fish have been noticed chafing from sharks, scientists say their examine, released in Ecology, The Scientific Naturalist, displays the cross-species behavior is additional common than beforehand known.

The scientists employed witness reports, underwater shots, video clips and drone footage to study 47 illustrations of fish rubbing towards sharks.

The “chafing events” were documented at 13 unique locations all over the entire world and varied in duration from eight seconds to 5 minutes. From time to time it would be just 1 fish chafing towards a person shark, but at instances shoals of more than 100 fish would be bumping in opposition to numerous sharks.

The scientists recorded 12 fin fish — any fish with fins, such as salmon, tuna or sharks, as opposed to shellfish or other sea creatures — chafing versus 8 unique species of shark, such as excellent whites.

Researchers employed aerial drone footage in addition to underwater images and video clips to study 47 examples of fish chafing versus sharks. (University of Miami Shark Investigate and Conservation Application at the Rosenstiel School of Maritime and Atmospheric Science/Zenger)

1 circumstance that stood out to the investigate staff was recorded by an aerial drone in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa and confirmed 25 occurrences of a leervis fish likely out of its way to rub from an massive fantastic white shark.

The scientists also uncovered that silky sharks (a species that does not have rough skin) chafe against whale sharks.

“While we do not exactly know why it’s taking place, we have a handful of theories. Shark skin is protected in little tooth-like scales known as dermal denticles, which give a rough sandpaper floor for the chafing fish,” said Neil Hammerschlag, UM Rosenstiel Faculty study associate professor and analyze co-creator.

“We suspect that chafing in opposition to shark pores and skin might enjoy a essential part in the elimination of parasites or other skin irritants, thus bettering fish health and fitness and health.”

The scientists hope that foreseeable future scientific studies will be in a position to even more acquire the principle of why fish seek out and rub versus their purely natural predators.

Edited by Richard Pretorius and Kristen Butler