Can Sharks Predict the Weather?

A student at Aberdeen University in the U.K. is engaged in a groundbreaking study to see if we might be able to monitor the behavior of sharks in order to predict the weather. When Hurricane Gabrielle arrived in Florida in 2001, shark researchers noticed that young black tipped sharks (who presumably had been tagged) moved to deeper depths as the storm approached.

Lauren, seen here, recreating the effects of a high pressure front by squeezing a dogfish.

P.H.D. student Lauren Smith is using spotted dogfish and a device at the university called an “altitude chamber” to…

…simulate the changes in the ocean when severe weather approaches. Such chambers (also called hypobaric chambers) are usually used for testing the effects of high altitude on the human body, often for the aeronautic or military industries. Smith stresses that she is not putting the dogfish in any danger of harm with her research.

Sharks sense pressure using hair cells in their vestibular systems, the sensory system in animal’s bodies responsible for balance and the basis for movement.

If Smith’s research yields conclusive results, scientists may one day be able to watch the movements of tagged sharks in order to predict severe weather fronts. This could have particular benefits for Caribbean nations and Gulf Coast states who often find themselves unprepared for hurricanes….What? In this day and age? I challenge our readers to give me ONE example of a city or state being unprepared for a major hurricane recently. Exactly. You can’t do it.

Special thanks to the guys at Deep Sea News for not noticing this story before we did.


  1. #1 kevin z
    March 26, 2008

    Apparently, the inhabitants of the Andaman Islands were mostly spared from the Tsunami of 2004 because they followed the animals to high ground.

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    April 22, 2009

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    July 6, 2012

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    July 6, 2012

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