Great white sharks attracted by AC/DC hits

By Angela Case 2 June 2011
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A shark cage tour operator has found that great white sharks are attracted to music by Aussie band AC/DC.

SHARKS ENTHUSIASTS HAVE USED fish guts to attract great white sharks for years, but it seems the fearsome creatures may be attracted to something more pleasing to their ears: music from Australian rock band AC/DC.

Matt Waller, a tour operator in South Australia’s Neptune Bay, has observed that when sharks hear the band’s hits, especially Shook Me All Night Long and Back in Black, they are drawn to the source of the music.

Matt’s research was inspired by dive operators on Guadalupe Island, who discovered playing music underwater for clients also caused changes in shark behaviour. He and his company, Adventure Bay Charters, decided to do some experimenting of their own.

Using underwater speakers attached to diving cages, they pumped Australian rock hits through the water. Most of Matt’s tunes had no effect, but when the great whites heard the AC/DC songs, they swam up and rubbed their faces against the source of the music.  

Sharks react to music

Matt acknowledges he is no expert on the minds of sharks and doesn’t know exactly why they find the ’80s rock band’s music so appealing.

“Sharks don’t have ears, they don’t have long hair, and they don’t head bang past the cage doing the air guitar,” he told Australian Geographic.

The sharks are probably drawn to the low frequencies found in AC/DC’s music, and Matt wants to test out this theory. “Once we’ve got a range of songs, we can electronically identify a common characteristic between those songs,” he says.

Led Zeppelin is next on Matt’s playlist, but his children are convinced that the sharks will be fans of the White Stripes and Wolfmother.

Matt’s findings could help cage-diving operations become more environmentally sustainable by reducing the amount of berley used on tours. He says Adventure Bay Charters is currently the only company in the world that uses music, not bait, to attract sharks, but predicts other operators will soon follow his lead.