Predator repellent

By Rebecca Baker 28 November 2013
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A research project is looking at the auditory abilities of sharks.

WITH AG SOCIETY SUPPORT, Lucille Chapuis hopes to determine how sound could be used to either attract or repel sharks.

This could provide new information about how sharks and rays use sound in their environment, and how it helps them maintain their place at the top of the food chain.

To do this, Lucille, a graduate student from the University of Western Australia in Perth, will be studying the workings of sharks’ inner ears.

“This study will be the first to accurately assess the hearing abilities of a range of Australian species from different habitats and also assess the effects of sound on behaviour,” she says.

The project will focus on Australian waters, which host about 180 species of sharks, 70 of which are found nowhere else. Sharks and rays play a crucial role in maintaining ecosystem health, and Lucille believes that learning about their little-studied sense of hearing will help inform conservation management.

“In the long term, this study may contribute new methods and technologies to help prevent sharks from being killed by entanglements, and could also lead to shark acoustic repellent devices to protect beaches worldwide,” Lucille says.