The most feared predators in the sea have individual personalities that affect how readily they socialise, according to a study by UK scientists.
Individual sharks, studied in groups of ten, showed consistent social habits – either forming groups with other sharks or finding camouflage on their own.
When a group was shifted into a new environment, individual sharks showed the same patterns of behaviour.
This is the first study to show that sharks have their own personalities.
The research was done in large tanks at the Marine Biological Association of the UK, in Plymouth, in collaboration with the University of Exeter. The findings appear in the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology.
Strategies for safety
Ten different groups, each containing ten small spotted catsharks, were each studied in three different situations. Some were complex environments with lots of rocks and other features, and some were simple tanks with gravel on the bottom.
Imagine if we took ten work colleagues and plonked them in a bar, and observed which individuals sat together over the course of an evening”
Prof William Hughes University of Sussex
Even though the overall number and size of sub-groups among the ten sharks often changed between environments, the individual sharks that tended to form big groups continued to do so, no matter what the situation.