Sharks, one of the deadliest creatures under the water, are a subject of fascination for many divers and researchers. On the whole, sharks are considered to be silent predators. But have you ever wondered that do sharks have vocal cords?
Sharks glide effortlessly through the waters, and it is in their nature to keep quiet since they are ambush predators. These specialised hunters have also got scales that are perfected to minimise the disturbance of water as they pass through.
A Whale Shark and a Diver
Apart from that, sharks tend to be completely solitary. This means they don’t roam around in groups and tend to live and hunt for prey alone. Therefore, there is pretty much no need for them to communicate. In the case of most fishes, there are swim bladders, which can be the best thing to produce some sort of sounds without any vocal cords.
However, sharks don’t possess that organ in their body. So, it is completely safe to say that there aren’t any vocal cords in sharks; hence they are not capable of producing any kind of vocalisation.
But as you may know by now, sharks hold onto their secrets very tightly, and biologists are only beginning to get a glimpse of what these ancient creatures are capable of. Though they’re not as vocal as whales and dolphins, some people think they may have discovered a few cases where sharks make noise.
Since sharks don’t possess any kind of vocal cords, there is no doubt that they aren’t capable of producing vocalisations. However, there are some unconfirmed reports by researchers about certain shark species. The reports claim that certain species of sharks tend to bark like a dog or let out a particular mysterious growl. The species of sharks that are said to produce these sounds are the draughtsboard shark, the swell shark, and the whale shark.
But these sounds might not be any kind of vocal sounds. Also, there is a chance that these sounds aren’t even coming from the shark itself. There is room for a lot of research to gain a conclusion that matters. So, for now, let us just agree that sharks cannot have any kind of vocal sounds.
One of the most common questions that people have about sharks is whether they communicate with their own species and other organisms or not. If so, then how do sharks communicate? We have already established that sharks tend to have a solitary nature, meaning they don’t like to socialise with their species and other creatures in the sea. Plus, sharks are considered to be one of the deadliest predators under the water.
Hence, the terror of sharks keeps them from ever interacting with any other species. Since these creatures are mostly alone and hunt and eat alone, the question of communication doesn’t arise. However, sharks can sense information from other organisms and their own kind.
This might be a little surprising to hear, but sharks can navigate and communicate using a special organ in their body. This unique organ is called the Ampullae of Lorenzini. Normal human beings don’t have that organ or an equivalent. The Ampullae of the Lorenzini are composed of tiny cells within the pores present in the heads of sharks. The hairs and the gel inside the ampullae of Lorenzini are very sensitive to certain electric charges from the surroundings.
These electric charges or impulses can come from any contraction in the surroundings, heart impulses of animals, and much more. The brains of the sharks are able to translate the information properly, thus, providing them with a sense of interaction and navigation.
As per the research, only two different genera of sharks have made a sound, and one of them isn’t even confirmed.
While filming the TV Series Blue Planet II in 2016, the crew managed to record a mysterious sound that came from the body camera attached to a particular whale shark. This sound was a low and gravelly whisper which was pretty curious for the people. However, due to a lack of research, this recording has not been considered confirmed yet. Since Whale Sharks are in close company with the Remora Fishes, there are many reasons to believe that the sound could be from those fishes swimming close to the shark.
Swell sharks (Scientific Name: Cephaloscyllium ventriosum) use a particular defence mechanism to save themselves. Like the Pufferfish, these sharks tend to inflate their bodies with a lot of air. These are the smaller versions of sharks that are reported to bark like dogs when they are caught. However, that sound could be due to the sudden expulsion of air. It is highly unlikely that such a sound will be produced if the shark is in normal surroundings.
This little and cute, spotted shark is another type of Catshark. However, it is ironic that it has been recorded to bark like a dog when caught. Not much information is available about the shark’s sounds. Hence, people are still pretty sceptical about the whole thing. These sharks also have the ability to take in as much air as they want inside their body if they have been caught. So, just like the Swell Fish, the sound could be due to the air being expelled. Till further evidence is found, it will not be considered that this kind of shark can make any noise.
In the end, it can be said that sharks don’t really have the physiology or the impetus to make any kind of noise. While there might be some reports where the sharks have been recorded to make some sound, these cases aren’t yet confirmed to be considered the truth.