To sleep or not to sleep Do sharks get shut eye

Winona Griggs

To Sleep or Not to Sleep: Do Sharks Get Shut-Eye?

Sharks are amazing creatures. They are fierce and often misunderstood. Many people believe that sharks have a strong desire to eat humans, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Sharks actually play a crucial role in maintaining the health of our oceans. They help control the food chain and keep fish populations in check. Without sharks, reef ecosystems would suffer.

Ironically, humans are the ones who pose a threat to sharks. On average, humans kill around 100 million sharks every year. In contrast, there were only 5 fatal shark attacks on humans in 2019, with just 2 of them being unprovoked. On a global scale, shark attacks result in about four human fatalities per year.

Let me tell you about the Two Oceans Aquarium. They do a lot to teach people about sharks and why they are important. They want to make sure people understand the truth about these predators and not believe the myths.

One question they recently answered is: Do sharks sleep? Let’s find out!

To sleep or not to sleep Do sharks get shut eye

Did you know that there are 1,000 different species of sharks? It’s true, as reported by WWF. Sharks are fascinating creatures that inhabit our oceans, and they have some truly incredible behaviors.

Take, for example, the great white shark. This powerful predator needs to keep moving in order to survive. However, in a remarkable discovery filmed by the Discovery Channel near Mexico’s Baja Peninsula in 2016, a great white shark was found in a completely catatonic state, with its mouth open and facing the current. It was like it was asleep, but still alive! Can you imagine that?

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And it’s not just in Mexico where these sleeping sharks have been observed. According to the Two Oceans Aquarium, sharks have also been seen sleeping in the gullies of False Bay. It’s incredible to think about these fearsome creatures, known for their strength and agility, taking a nap.

Sharks are truly fascinating creatures, with behaviors that continue to surprise and amaze us. As we learn more about them, we gain a deeper appreciation for the complex and mysterious world that exists beneath the surface of the ocean.

In support of this fascinating behavior in great white sharks, there have been studies indicating that the regulation of their swimming muscles is not directly controlled by their brain, but rather by their spinal cord. This suggests that these sharks could potentially “sleep” while they continue to swim long distances. All vertebrates, including sharks, have groups of nerves called “central pattern generators” which are responsible for coordinating rhythmic movements like breathing, swallowing, and walking. It has been discovered that spiny dogfish sharks possess these generators in their spinal cords as well. This adaptation may allow sharks to keep swimming while giving their brains a chance to rest or possibly even sleep. The researchers at the Two Oceans Aquarium found these findings quite intriguing.

So I came across this study, right? They were checking out the sleep habits of two different kinds of sharks that can breathe without moving. Pretty cool, huh? So what they did was zap the water around them with little electric pulses while they were chilling out. Turns out, when they were in their relaxed state, the sharks responded better to the stronger pulses. But when they were all active and stuff, they only perked up for the weaker zaps.

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What does that mean? Well, the researchers think that when the sharks were in their calm state, they were actually snoozing and not just being still. In other words, these sharks know how to take a nap!

Have you ever wondered if sharks sleep? Well, I did some digging and found an interesting study that looked into this very question. The researchers wanted to know if sharks have a rest cycle similar to ours, based on how much time they’ve been active. And guess what? They actually do!

According to the study, a shark’s rest cycle is tied to its Circadian rhythm. This means that, like us, they sleep or rest based on instinct. But here’s the thing: while sharks definitely rest, we don’t have enough solid proof to determine whether they enter a full-on dreamland and experience sleep as we do.

The Two Oceans Aquarium sums it up perfectly by saying, ‘Sharks definitely rest. They definitely “space-out”. But, it’s unclear whether this is actually “sleep” – you know, that reduced state of consciousness – or simply periods of decreased physical activity.’

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