A new study by Florida Atlantic University along with partners in Australia has found some surprising new findings about “walking” sharks.
The study focuses on the small, reef-dwelling epaulette shark, which can walk in and out of the water by using its paddle-shaped fins and wriggling its body.
What truly surprised the researchers was the shark’s ability to tolerate anoxia (the absence of oxygen) for prolonged periods. The scientists found that the sharks can be deprived of oxygen on land for up to 2 hours without suffering any consequences.
According to FAU Associate Professor and the study’s senior author Marianne Porter:
“Studying epaulette shark locomotion allows us to understand this species’– and perhaps related species’– ability to move within and away from challenging conditions in their habitats… In general, these locomotor traits are key to survival for a small, benthic mesopredator that maneuvers into small reef crevices to avoid aerial and aquatic predators. These traits also may be related to their sustained physiological performance under challenging environmental conditions, including those associated with climate change – an important topic for future studies…Investigating how locomotor performance changes over the course of early ontogeny – perhaps the most vulnerable life stages, in terms of predator-prey interactions and environmental stressors – can offer insights into the kinematic mechanisms that allow animals to compensate for constraints to meet locomotor and ecological demands.”
You can find the original study here or check out a video of the walking shark’s study below