Prey interactions in tiger sharks

Published on
27 May 2022

Prey interactions in tiger sharks: Accounting for visual perception in animal-borne cameras

Laura A. Ryan, Samantha Andrzejaczek. Adrian C. Gleiss, Mark G. Meekan, Taylor K.Chapple, Nathan S.Hart


The ‘evolutionary arms race’ between predator and prey is responsible for many physiological, morphological, and behavioural adaptations and some of the most compelling examples relate to the generation and detection of visual signals. Better understanding of adaptations can arise from approaching predator-prey dynamics from the point of view of the animals themselves, such as through animal-borne cameras. As we learn more about an animal’s visual system, we can take this further and analyse visual scenes through their eyes. In this study video cameras mounted on tiger sharks were used to analyse motion cues of sea turtles using two-dimensional motion detector (2DMD) models. Sharks were also equipped with tri-axial motion-sensors to compare visual motion cues to behaviour, using the behavioural metrics of overall dynamic body acceleration (ODBA), path tortuosity, tailbeat frequency and tailbeat acceleration signal amplitude. When comparing the behaviours of sharks in the minute before and after interactions with sea turtles, we found lower ODBA of sharks associated with sea turtles that produced greater visual motion cues. These turtles also invoked swimming by sharks that was more tortuous than when no turtle was encountered. Together, these behaviours suggest that tiger sharks may potentially stalking turtles that produced greater motion cues. Many sea turtles did not stand out from the background motion suggesting they remain motionless as a form of camouflage. This study provides insights into the use of visual cues in prey identification by tiger sharks and the camouflage strategies used by sea turtles to avoid predation.

Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, Volume 553, August 2022, DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2022.151764


Leave a Reply