SARASOTA, Fla. — We all know that sharks are the best hunters in the ocean, thanks to their incredible sense of smell, hearing and eyesight. But, these senses help with more than just hunting. They help sharks actually detect when a hurricane is approaching.
Putting it simply, tropical systems are areas of low pressure. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm. Hurricane-force-winds on the surface can create unfavorable, if not deadly, conditions for marine life – including sharks – beneath the surface.
Sharks and other fish have a system of organs called the lateral line system. It runs along the sides of their bodies, allowing them to sense vibrations and pressure – yes, pressure.
A 2001 Mote Marine Laboratory study found blacktip sharks left shallow water nurseries and headed to deeper, safer waters ahead of a rapid drop in pressure that preceded Tropical Storm Gabrielle, which made landfall in Sarasota County.
Scientists have observed similar behavior in other types of sharks and fish.
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