Today’s Solutions: May 23, 2022

Sharks are the apex predators of the ocean. They consume between 0.5 to 3.0 percent of their body weight each meal, which takes two to three days to digest. Depending on which species out of nearly 400 we are talking about, their diet consists of fish, crustaceans, stingrays, turtles, squid, dolphins, and anything in between. So it seems pretty normal to be wary of these predators, right?

Well for some fish it seems this isn’t the case as they have been recorded on camera snuggling with sharks. A research group from the University of Miami documented 47 instances of this phenomenon from 13 locations around the world. They captured fish and small sharks swimming alongside larger predators and rubbing all over them. Dauntless fish were seen brushing themselves against a shark’s nose and even in contact with Great Whites. They obviously haven’t watched ‘Jaws!’

What kind of scales do sharks have?

The team published their findings in the journal Ecology and have a few theories why this may be occurring. Associate professor and study co-author Neil Hammerschlag said, “Shark skin is covered in small tooth-like scales called dermal denticles, which provide a rough sandpaper surface for the chafing fish. We suspect that chafing against shark skin might play a vital role in the removal of parasites or other skin irritants, thus improving fish health and fitness.”

All that risk for a back rub

Sea creatures actively seeking out inanimate objects to rub against, such as on rocks or sand, have been well documented for a while. However, this shark-chafing occurrence is the only known phenomenon where prey actively search for their predator and make contact with them. Putting themselves in this risky situation for up to five minutes, the ecological role must be of high importance.

In all habitats, organisms work together to balance nature and sometimes assist each other. Understanding more about the necessities of marine life allows for better conservation of the organisms themselves and also their territories.

Source study: Ecology – Sharks as exfoliators: widespread chafing between marine organisms suggests an unexplored ecological role

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

New program seeks to break the cycle between jail and homelessness

Several factors can lead to homelessness: a lack of affordable housing, high costs of living, and even, sadly, mental illness. Another factor that contributes to homelessness, which is often overlooked, is incarceration.  Many individuals serve ... Read More

How a century-old cargo schooner is bringing back emissions-free shipping

The shipping industry is responsible for 2.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions — putting about 940 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Before 1960, however, when containerization started to take off, ... Read More

Dam! Europe removes record number of river barriers in 2021

In 2021, Spain began a movement to remove dams from the country’s rivers to restore fish migration routes and boost biodiversity across the nation. They successfully took down 108 barriers and inspired other European countries ... Read More

This contact lens releases glaucoma medication

While it is treatable, glaucoma remains a serious eye disease that can damage the optic nerve and lead to blindness if left untreated. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease, and research ... Read More

US soccer and national teams reach agreement to close gender pay gap

In a historic win for women’s rights, US Soccer and both the women’s and men’s national teams have proclaimed a collective bargaining agreement to close the gender pay gap and ensure that each player, regardless ... Read More

New immunotherapy drug combo slows liver cancer growth in mice

There is something of an art to the science of medicine. We’ve all heard that everyone’s different, and so is their biology. Sometimes, developing the right treatment for a patient’s condition takes dedicated and creative ... Read More