Listening to AC/DC Makes Great White Sharks Calmer

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Listening to AC/DC Makes Great White Sharks Calmer

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Jaws could have been averted entirely if the humans had just had an extra copy of "Back in Black."

Great White Sharks have a special place in human consciousness - they're mysterious, enigmatic creatures that also scare the bejeezus out of us, what with being one of the most lethally-designed predators in all of history. They may not attack humans nearly as much as some people believe, but they're still potentially terrifying killing machines. Oh, and they really love Australian hard rock band AC/DC.

Wait, what?

Matt Waller, a charter boat operator in South Australia's Neptune Bay, found that blasting AC/DC underwater made the area's Great Whites far less threatening than they normally were. When Waller played "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "Back in Black" over underwater speakers, the sharks became "more investigative, more inquisitive and a lot less aggressive," he told Aussie outlet ABC.

"[They] actually came past in a couple of occasions when we had the speaker in the water and rubbed their face along the speaker which was really bizarre."

Waller says he was inspired to try his heavy-metal solution after speaking with some divers who told him that they played music underwater to change the sharks' behavior in the hopes of not becoming a Great White's next meal. Waller experimented with his albums, and found that AC/DC was a hit with the apex predator.

But why? As Waller told Australian Geographic, sharks "don't have ears, they don't have long hair, and they don't head bang past the cage doing the air guitar." Even if they can't hear the sounds, says Waller, they can feel the vibrations - and AC/DC's hard rock produces a lot of very low vibrations.

He intends to play a variety of songs and albums in hoping to identify common characteristics that produce the same effect on sharks. Not only could this help us understand sharks better, says Waller, he also thinks it has a practical benefit: Cage-diving companies could use music to reduce danger instead of shark bait as a more economical and environmentally friendly alternative.

Next, Waller plans on trying out some Zeppelin, but his kids think the sharks will like the White Stripes and Wolfmother more. I'm going to just throw my vote in for Judas Priest and see where it gets us.

(Australian Geographic & ABC, via Time)

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Always figured sharks wouldn't like Sigur Rós whale noises.

WHOA WHOA WHOA, am I the only one more surprised that AC/DC is Australian, rather then the stugg about the sharks.

It would be really funny if Bieber songs made those sharks more aggressive.

John Funk:

"they don't head bang past the cage doing the air guitar."

That produced an awesome yet very ridiculous image in my mind :P
Anyway, that's pretty interesting. It seems as though music soothes the beast's soul....or at least just distracts it quite a bit.

I personally think they would enjoy Slayer.

Somehow, I am not surprised.

Kevlar Eater:
It would be really funny if Bieber songs made those sharks more aggressive.

Actually...

you know what... I'm not going to tell you what happens then, but it makes any Syfy crap movie they make with "super" animals look like a freakin Barneys episode...

And now, I'm tempted to go underwater and rock out with some Great Whites!

zombie711:
WHOA WHOA WHOA, am I the only one more surprised that AC/DC is Australian, rather then the stugg about the sharks.

I thought they were scottish.

So now it's a good idea to Rock the Boat?

John Funk:

He intends to play a variety of songs and albums in hoping to identify common characteristics that produce the same effect on sharks. Not only could this help us understand sharks better, says Waller, he also thinks it has a practical benefit: Cage-diving companies could use music to reduce danger instead of shark bait as a more economical and environmentally friendly alternative.

Maybe not...I mean it's cool that Great White Sharks seem to be into AC/DC but what about other types of Shark? Maybe they're more into Hendrix? Not to mention non-shark species like Whales who I see as being into smooth jazz or, Dolphins who would likely be into jock-rock. Not to mention the squids, octopus and, cuddlefish who are all likely into the most satanic of Death-Metal and will take this newfound musical assault as the final straw before they awaken their big brother Cthulhu.

Hey, it could happen. Either way it's another reason for me to spend all my money on lotto tickets, hoping to win big so I can buy a pet shark of my own and mess with it by playing it all different kinds of music.

Technically, great white sharks do have ears. They simply lack the external flaps which we associate with ears.

They also, as with all sharks, are incredibly sensitive to vibrations. They have a sensory line running down each side of their body called the 'lateral line' which is extremely receptive to movement and sound. This enables them, for instance, to detect the splashing of a wounded animal from hundreds of feet away, even without smelling them.

What does this have to do with AC/DC? Sound played underwater travels much further than in air, and with stronger vibrations. Therefore, while we may struggle to hear Back In Black through an underwater speaker, the shark is going to be feeling it running all the way up and down its lateral line. There is some evidence that sharks actually enjoy such sensory stimulation. For example, look up 'tonic immobility' on Youtube to see Michael Rutzen rendering sharks near-comatose by massaging the sensitive areas on their noses. This video is a great example.

So, what does this all mean? The sharks probably aren't reacting to AC/DC specifically (duh!), but are being stimulated by the vibrations loud music causes underwater. Distract them with that, and they're far less likely to try and take a bite out of you.

necromanzer52:

zombie711:
WHOA WHOA WHOA, am I the only one more surprised that AC/DC is Australian, rather then the stugg about the sharks.

I thought they were scottish.

The Young brothers (Angus and Malcolm) were born in Scotland, but moved to Australia at a young age with their parents (I think Angus was around 8 at the time and Malcolm was 10), and have lived in Australia since then.

That is fucking awesome
This story gets my BAMF of the year award. At least until Duke Nukem comes out

This is made of win. Without question, the most amazingly awesome thing I have read all year.

HankMan:
So now it's a good idea to Rock the Boat?

Damn you and your puns!

John Funk:
I'm going to just throw my vote in for Judas Priest and see where it gets us.

Now, as much as I love Judas Priest, I think we can go much lower than that. Especially if you delve into the realms of the more "extreme Metal". How would they react to Cannibal Corpse? No wait!


Come on, it was written for underwater creatures. It's perfect.

OT: Yeah, that's awesome. Seriously awesome.I play Heavy Metal to my cat sometimes, it goes hyper, starts running around the room... Opposite effect, but I have yet to find another genre that has the same hilarious effects. We should investigate the effects of Heavy Metal on other animals. I shall undertake this research. I need a job...

zombie711:
WHOA WHOA WHOA, am I the only one more surprised that AC/DC is Australian, rather then the stugg about the sharks.

Considering the Young brothers are from Glasgow and Brian Johnson's a Geordie, yeah I'm surprised they're considered an australian band as well.

Nice to know sharks have good taste in music, maybe that's why they eat seals, evryone knows seals like Indy.

Aww, I always hoped that on the inside, sharks are actually refined gentlemen.

Would love to see how they react to this

Next we'll be testing the effect of Massive Attack and Daft Punk on the Tiger Shark as well as some Phil Collins on the Northern-Frilled Lame Shark.

So sharks like bassy music?

SHARK DUPSTEP.

John Funk:
Listening to AC/DC Makes Great White Sharks Calmer

Permalink

Oh, silly marine biologists, when will you stop pulling stunts like this for cheap headlines that draw superficial attention?

Whenever they "discover" sound causing a dramatic impact on animal behavior, it's always metal, or some other similar style of music cited as the culprit. Styles of music that tend to be moderate-to-fast and bass-heavy obviously contain more low-frequency sounds in more noticeable patterns.

A pattern that is too regular (say, a low-frequency drone. Or club music) could be disregarded as noise. A pattern that is too random might seem too confusing, and might not spark the same curiosity. A complex pattern, like the interaction of bass guitar and kick drum sounds from a rock song, often hit just the right balance.

Additionally, low-frequency sounds travel much farther. This is especially true in water. See: whale songs. What we're used to hearing of whale songs is just what they sound like when sped up (to get them into our hearing range). Elephants also use these "infrasounds," which travel for miles--this is separate from the familiar (and more readily audible) elephant trumpeting sound.

People react differently to them, as well. Instinctively, they put us in an excited state, because "deep sound" usually meant "large animal." Either a big predator or big prey. Also, a lower sound is more likely to match up with the resonant frequency of one of our sensory organs and cause some interesting stimulation (see: "ghost" sightings, etc.).

Another possible explanation, pertaining to sharks, is that this may recreate the rhythmic "hum" of large boat engines. To some of these sharks, boats mean food--either camera crews chumming/baiting them, or just smaller fish munching on the food stirred up by the boat's wake.

It's an interesting finding, though not unexpected, but they always feel the need to try to make it "relevant" by tying the result to something like rock or metal or rap. It's like when the discovery of the existence of a new planet that might be similar to Earth hits headlines as, "Life in Space: Another Earth Discovered?" or something.

MurderousToaster:

necromanzer52:

zombie711:
WHOA WHOA WHOA, am I the only one more surprised that AC/DC is Australian, rather then the stugg about the sharks.

I thought they were scottish.

The Young brothers (Angus and Malcolm) were born in Scotland, but moved to Australia at a young age with their parents (I think Angus was around 8 at the time and Malcolm was 10), and have lived in Australia since then.

And the same is true of the original singer, Bon Scott (who moved from Scotland to Australia at age 6). However, when Bon Scott died, he was replaced by Brian Johnson, who was born and raised in England (and according to my research, now lives in Florida when not on tour!).

necromanzer52:

zombie711:
WHOA WHOA WHOA, am I the only one more surprised that AC/DC is Australian, rather then the stugg about the sharks.

I thought they were scottish.

I thought they were from the States. I guess the D.C. bit just stopped me remembering to question it.

Dastardly:

John Funk:
Listening to AC/DC Makes Great White Sharks Calmer

Permalink

Oh, silly marine biologists, when will you stop pulling stunts like this for cheap headlines that draw superficial attention?

Whenever they "discover" sound causing a dramatic impact on animal behavior, it's always metal, or some other similar style of music cited as the culprit. Styles of music that tend to be moderate-to-fast and bass-heavy obviously contain more low-frequency sounds in more noticeable patterns.

A pattern that is too regular (say, a low-frequency drone. Or club music) could be disregarded as noise. A pattern that is too random might seem too confusing, and might not spark the same curiosity. A complex pattern, like the interaction of bass guitar and kick drum sounds from a rock song, often hit just the right balance.

Additionally, low-frequency sounds travel much farther. This is especially true in water. See: whale songs. What we're used to hearing of whale songs is just what they sound like when sped up (to get them into our hearing range). Elephants also use these "infrasounds," which travel for miles--this is separate from the familiar (and more readily audible) elephant trumpeting sound.

People react differently to them, as well. Instinctively, they put us in an excited state, because "deep sound" usually meant "large animal." Either a big predator or big prey. Also, a lower sound is more likely to match up with the resonant frequency of one of our sensory organs and cause some interesting stimulation (see: "ghost" sightings, etc.).

Another possible explanation, pertaining to sharks, is that this may recreate the rhythmic "hum" of large boat engines. To some of these sharks, boats mean food--either camera crews chumming/baiting them, or just smaller fish munching on the food stirred up by the boat's wake.

It's an interesting finding, though not unexpected, but they always feel the need to try to make it "relevant" by tying the result to something like rock or metal or rap. It's like when the discovery of the existence of a new planet that might be similar to Earth hits headlines as, "Life in Space: Another Earth Discovered?" or something.

In all fairness, this isn't a marine biologist. It's a guy who runs a charter boat tour group. So there's less science involved.

I always knew sharks were metal heads/rockers. It had to be one or the other.

CplDustov:

necromanzer52:

zombie711:
WHOA WHOA WHOA, am I the only one more surprised that AC/DC is Australian, rather then the stugg about the sharks.

I thought they were scottish.

I thought they were from the States. I guess the D.C. bit just stopped me remembering to question it.

You do know it's short for alternating current direct current?

AC/DC is loved by great white sharks. Just proves the badassness of the bands music.

necromanzer52:

CplDustov:

necromanzer52:

I thought they were scottish.

I thought they were from the States. I guess the D.C. bit just stopped me remembering to question it.

You do know it's short for alternating current direct current?

Yup. Making it a very clever pun if they were from Washington DC. It wasn't going to make any sense to me otherwise.

EDIT: Spelling correction

umm, we "hear" things by interpreting vibrations. Just because sharks don't have ears doesn't mean they aren't "hearing" the vibrations in a similar way.

So all you really need is some bassy music....Industrial electronica it is!

John Funk:
In all fairness, this isn't a marine biologist. It's a guy who runs a charter boat tour group. So there's less science involved.

That's fair. In this case, it must be the folks at Australian Geographic. It just turns the whole thing into a fluff piece... which I guess is probably what it was meant to be. But geez, y'know? Science isn't that hard.

Kevlar Eater:
It would be really funny if Bieber songs made those sharks more aggressive.

lol my thoughts exactly

I wonder what sharks think of daft punk?

Really? Because AD/HD just makes me wanna shoot puppies in the face.

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