Scientists have found out that tiger sharks have a unique social life that gives them social preferences.
This study is the first of its kind as researchers tagged and tracked tiger sharks over the course of three years. They put in place a Social Network Analysis that collected data around the social life of the tiger sharks, tracking their social group behaviors and any presented changes according to the environment.
Neil Hammerschlag, a senior author of the study and research associate professor at the UM Rosenstiel School, said, “Given that tiger sharks spend months at a time out in the open ocean as solitary predators. It’s amazing to me that they show social preferences for one another when they are at the Tiger Beach area.”
The study revealed that even these incredibly solitary animals maintained social connections with other tiger sharks; still participating in a social circle even when they spent most of their life alone.
The study was conducted at a place where tiger sharks are regularly bated for the pleasure of tourists. Thus, the study included the effects of these human encounters on the tiger shark’s social construct.
It showed that their social behavior momentarily broke down when they were being fed bait, but their natural behavior resumed once they were away from the bait site.
This shows the unique opportunity to look at how human contact can affect the private lives of animals.
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