Climate change is making sharks ‘right-handed’: Rising ocean temperatures affect the direction they prefer to swim, study finds
Australian scientists incubated eggs at temperature predicted for 2100
They found half died within a month, and those who survived became ‘right handed’, preferring to swim to the right
Warming oceans are changing the way sharks swim – and making them right handed, researchers have found.
Australian scientists incubated eggs in tanks heated to simulate temperature changes at the end of the century.
They found half died within a month, and those who survived became ‘right handed’, preferring to swim to the right, a process known as lateralization.
The researchers found the rising temperatures developed the trait far more quickly than they expected.
‘We incubated and reared Port Jackson sharks at current and projected end-of-century temperatures and measured preferential detour responses to left or right,’ the researchers wrote in a study published in the journal Symmetry.
Climate Change Is Making Sharks Right-Handed
Sharks, you may be tempted to point out, don’t actually have hands (they have fins, which are genetically not so far off from human arms). So, when scientists talk about the right or left “handedness” of sharks and other marine creatures, they’re talking about lateralization: the tendency for one half of an animal’s brain to automatically control certain behaviors. With simple, automated behaviors (say, your preference for writing with your right or left hand), this theoretically frees up mental energy for an animal to perform more-complex cognitive functions. In fish, lateralization might mean a default preference for swimming a certain way, which can help those fish forage for food or form schools. [On The Brink: A Gallery of Wild Sharks]
Warming Waters Could Make Sharks “Right-Handed”—and Deadlier – New findings reveal how rising ocean temperatures could boost sharks’ thinking, potentially disrupting food chains
— 𝔻𝕒𝕨𝕟𝕋𝕁𝟡𝟘™ 🇵🇭💖🇨🇦 Climate of Dawn (@DawnTJ90) June 17, 2022