White Sharks Exploit the Sun during Predatory Approaches

paperPublished in April 2015

White Sharks Exploit the Sun during Predatory Approaches

Charlie Huveneers, Dirk Holman, Rachel Robbins, Andrew Fox, John A. Endler,
Alex H. Taylor


There is no conclusive evidence of any nonhuman animal using the sun as part of its predation strategy. Here, we show that the world’s largest predatory fish—the white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)—exploits the sun when approaching baits by positioning the sun directly behind them. On sunny days, sharks reversed their direction of approach along an east-west axis from morning to afternoon but had uniformly distributed approach directions during overcast conditions. These results show that white sharks have sufficient behavioral flexibility to exploit fluctuating environmental features when predating. This sun-tracking predation strategy has a number of potential functional roles, including improvement of prey detection, avoidance of retinal overstimulation, and predator concealment.

The American Naturalist Vol. 185, No. 4, DOI: 10.1086/680010



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