Did you know that Sharks are able to detect electrical signals in the water? You might be saying to yourself this sounds like some kind of superpower out of a comic book. However, over the course of millions and millions of years Sharks have developed different senses other than their great sense of smell to help them hunt. Detecting electrical signals is one of them.
How long did it take for Sharks to develop such an awesome sense? Well let’s wrap your noggin around this. Sharks have been around for almost 450 million years! To put this in perspective for you, this is older than Dinosaurs, insects and even your Grandmother!
Now you’re probably asking how does this superpower ability allow sharks to better hunt? Believe it or not most kinds of fish and even mammals give off a very weak electrical signal that is created by each individual cell building block that makes up us and every other kind of organism on the planet. Just like we use our nose to smell, Sharks have hundreds to thousands of detectors located in their snouts that pick up electrical signals that are given off by fish and whatever else is in the water with them.
These tiny detectors are called Ampullae of Lorenzini that then send signals to the brain. These detectors are so sensitive that sharks can detect one pole of a single 1.5-volt battery from over 800 miles away. That’s like detecting a battery from the coast of Long Island to Florida!
This sense along with their other strong senses help sharks find their prey and attack. No wonder sharks have been around for nearly 450 million years! Your Grandmother may have perfected the art of baking cookies but Sharks have perfected the art of hunting with their sixth sense.
The Sharks Electrical Sense, R. Douglas Fields, Scientific American Inc.
The Electrical Sense of Sharks and Rays, A.J. Kalmijn (1971) Journal of Exploratory Biology