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Giant shark outscored the big white in speed jump

The giant shark (Cetorhinus maximus) strains the plankton.
Chris Gotschalk / Wikimedia Commons



The second largest fish on the planet, a giant or blue shark can jump out of the water at a speed of up to five meters per second. This is the same as the speed “in jumping” of a large white shark, says an article published in  Biology Letters . True, if a predatory white shark needs such a speed, then why does it need a giant shark feeding on plankton? It’s not entirely clear.

Giant sharks ( Cetorhinus maximus ) belong to the group of lamelliform ( Lamniformes ), inhabit the temperate and subtropical latitudes and feed exclusively on plankton. They reach 9.8 meters in length and are the second largest fish after whale sharks. Swim giant sharks slowly , with an average speed of 3.7 kilometers per hour, which is almost ten times less than the speed of large white sharks ( Carcharodon carcharias) , which move at a speed of 40 kilometers per hour and even more during the hunt. This is understandable given the difference in diet. However, periodically there were reports that a giant shark can jump very fast, at the same speed as a large white shark.

To test this, marine biologists from Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa and Israel, led by Jonathan Houghton of the University of Belfast, filmed 27 videos with jumps of giant sharks and 22 videos with jumps of large white sharks and analyzed their height and speed. Also, scientists provided the male giant shark camera with the ability to track movements and took three hours of video and accelerometer data.

It turned out that giant sharks jumped up with an average speed of 4.9 meters per second and with an absolute speed of 5.1 meters per second. This is slightly more than the speed of a large white shark – 4.8 meters per second. The shark, equipped with a camera, reached this speed in just 10 strokes of the tail and for nine seconds rose from a depth of 28 meters to the surface. The maximum height of the jump was 1.2 meters.

According to the estimates of the authors, such jumps are energy-intensive: perhaps, giant sharks spend twice as much energy on them as three times smaller in size than large white sharks, which also live in lower latitudes. According to the researchers, these jumps can serve to communicate with individuals of their species and find a partner for mating, and also to collect prey in one place, get rid of parasites or escape from predators.

Recently, scientists have recorded another record: the migration of the whale sharks by more than 20 thousand kilometers. This is the maximum known distance for both whale sharks and sharks in general.

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