Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Is that a mouth or what? Now down to the scientific, sharks follow their noses to find prey but they only use one nostril at a time. They head in the direction of the first nostril that copped a whiff of noms even if the other nostril detects a higher concentration of the odor.
The problem of hunting by odor is that odors do not travel through the ocean in a straight line like me to Donut King. The scent breaks up into pieces, floating to different levels, being mixed by water currents so timing is all. The shark hits an odor trail at an angle rather than straight on so by turning in the direction of the 'first whiff nostril' the shark will automatically steer into the ordor patch. And the timing? The difference in timing when each nostril catches a scent can be as small as a tenth of a second.
So if you're hoping their timing is off, here comes the second line of nom finding. They have a sensitive organ called a lateral line, which runs the length of their bodies and picks up vibrations in the water. Functioning in a similar way to the hairs on our skin (are yours standing up right now) but more sensitive, it measures minuscule water flow differences and combined with sense of smell allows the shark to track the odor patches straight to the source.
And even if you think you can out swim those teeth and make it to the boat, look at this photo carefully. The Great White is out of the water and in flight so you could be halfway up the outboard ladder and crunchlunch. This photo was taken at False Bay near Cape Town and it was hard finding one that didn't have a seal, porpoise or bloke in its gob. It brings to mind the immortal words of Chief Brody, "We're gunna need a bigger boat".