How Many Senses Do Sharks Have?

A blue shark in the waters off of South Africa.

How Many Senses Do Sharks Have?

A sense is the capability of a living organism to recognize, understand, and behave to something. Senses are physiological abilities that give data for reasons of perception. Most of decisions and reactions of living organisms are because of senses. For every sense in a living organism, there is an organ that facilitates it, and for some organisms, they have specific sensory systems. Different organisms, therefore, have a different number of senses depending on their body anatomy and environment.

Sharks possess a number common senses that human beings have. The sharks also have some extra unique senses that aid them in hunting for prey in the water. The following are the senses that sharks have;

Photoreception (vision) sense

Photoreception sense is the sense of vision or sight. Sharks have eyes for seeing underwater. Shark's eyes are adapted to work effectively in water which is a murky and dark due to inadequate light inside water. The shark's eyes are placed on the sides of the head to give a wider field of view. The sense of vision becomes more useful when the shark is close to the object of focus than the other senses. The eyes of Sharks are also equipped with shiny cells in the back of its retina which acts as a reflective layer that improves vision when there is inadequate light.

Sense of Smell

The smell sense falls in the group of chemoreception senses because it uses chemicals to recognize changes in its environment. The sense of smell has proven to be fundamental for its survival in water. A bigger portion of the brain of a shark is designed to process smells. The smell senses help sharks to detect mates for reproduction and predators as well as preys. Sharks are supersensitive to prey blood since they can smell from several kilometers away.

Sense of Taste

Sharks have taste cells which are situated all over its mouth. The taste sense in sharks is only used to taste probable meals. They are not used to detect prey but rather to determine palatable meat. Sharks don't have developed taste senses.

Sense of Sound

Sharks have a highly developed sense of hearing. They have an ear hole on its head that connects to its inner ears directly. The capacity to detect sounds helps the Shark to detect sounds produced by its prey. The sensitivity of sharks to sounds increases with a decrease in the frequency of the sound.

Sense of Touch

Sharks also have several organs that can sense touch. Their skin has nerve endings under it that allow it to sense touch. The mouth of sharks also detect touch.

Lateral line sense

The lateral line in sharks is used to detect vibrations which are small in magnitude in the water. Sharks have the lateral lines along both sides of their bodies which are concealed beneath the skin and run from the head to the tail.

Sense of Electroreception

Lastly, sharks can detect electric fields in their surroundings. “ampullae of Lorenzini" is used to detect the electric fields by the Sharks.


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