Sharks are solitary creatures and typically do not travel in groups. While some species of sharks are more social and tend to form groups, others are more solitary and prefer to live and hunt alone.
In this article, we’ll explore the various social behaviors of sharks and look at some of the factors that clear do sharks travel in groups or alone.
We’ll also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of living in a group for sharks, and how their social behavior can vary based on the species, their age, and the environment they live in.
Shark Trekking: Do Sharks Travel In Groups?
Sharks can be found in a variety of social groups, ranging from solitary individuals to large schools. Some species of sharks are more social than others and tend to form groups, while others are more solitary and prefer to live and hunt alone.
Basically some species of sharks, such as hammerheads, whale sharks, and basking sharks, are known to form large schools and are often found swimming together in large numbers.
These groupings can be quite dynamic, with sharks constantly joining and leaving the school as they search for food and mates.
But species, such as great whites and tiger sharks, are more solitary and are usually found alone or in small groups of same sex.
It’s worth noting that the social behavior of sharks can vary based on the species, their age, and the environment they live in.
Some sharks may be more social in certain areas or at certain times of year, while others may be more solitary.
Sharks associate with other individuals so they can inadvertently share information on the location or remains of large prey.Biology Letters, Royal Society Publishing.
What Makes a Social Animal?
A social animal is an organism that is highly interactive with other members of its own species, often living in large, organized groups.
Social animals are characterized by their ability to communicate, cooperate, and work together for the benefit of the group. Examples of social animals include primates, birds, wolves, and elephants.
There are several factors that contribute to the social nature of animals, including the need for protection, access to resources, and reproduction.
For example, social animals may form groups for protection against predators or for access to food, water, and other resources.
In some cases, social behavior may also be related to reproduction, as many social animals form complex mating systems and engage in cooperative breeding.
Overall, the social behavior of animals is a complex and varied phenomenon that is shaped by a variety of ecological, evolutionary, and cultural factors.
Shark Species Like to Travel in Groups
There are several species of sharks that are known to travel in groups or “schools.” Some examples of sharks that are known to form schools include:
Blue sharks are known to form large schools, especially when feeding on schools of fish. These schools can consist of hundreds or even more individuals.
Blue sharks are highly social animals, and they are often seen interacting with one another in a variety of ways, including play behavior and social grooming.
Blue sharks are found in a wide range of habitats, including the open ocean, continental shelves, and coastal waters.
They are highly migratory, and they can travel long distances in search of food and suitable breeding and nursing grounds.
Blue sharks are known to range throughout the world’s oceans, from the tropics to the temperate zones.
Blacktip reef sharks are often found in small groups or aggregations.
These sharks are known to inhabit shallow, coastal waters, including coral reefs and drop-off zones, and they are often found in areas with high amounts of prey, such as schools of fish.
Blacktip reef sharks are known to be social animals and are often found in small groups or aggregations, which can contain several individuals up to a few dozen.
These groups may be a way for the sharks to coordinate their movements and increase their chances of finding food, as well as a way for them to defend themselves against predators.
Sand Tiger Sharks
Sand tiger sharks also known as gray nurse sharks are generally found in small groups, although they can also be found alone or in larger aggregations.
These sharks are often found in shallow, coastal waters, and they are known to frequent areas with high amounts of prey, such as shipwrecks and rocky reefs.
Sand tiger sharks are known to be social animals, and they have been observed engaging in behaviors such as body-rubbing and biting at each other, which may be a form of communication or social bonding.
However, these sharks are not known to form cohesive groups or schools like some other species of sharks.
Hammerhead sharks are generally found in small groups, although they can also be found alone or in larger aggregations.
These sharks are known to be social animals and are often found in shallow, coastal waters, where they can be seen cruising along the bottom or swimming near the surface.
Some species of hammerhead sharks, such as scalloped hammerheads, are known to form large schools during certain times of the year, such as when they are reproducing or feeding.
It’s important to note that while these sharks are known to form schools, not all individuals within a species will necessarily do so. Some sharks may prefer to travel alone or in smaller groups.
Basking sharks are very social animals or that they are often found in large groups.
Although basking sharks have been observed aggregating in certain areas, such as near large schools of plankton, and they may also form temporary associations with other individuals.
Shark Species Prefer to Travel Alone
There are many species of sharks that are generally found alone, rather than in groups or schools.
Some examples of sharks that are known to be solitary include:
Great White Sharks
Great white sharks are known to be highly territorial and like to travel alone.
They are known to defend their territory from other sharks and have been observed attacking other white sharks that venture into their territory.
But a research group of California (2001) observed that great white sharks occasionally hunt in pair.
Mako sharks prefer to travel alone or in small groups and are known to be highly migratory.
They are found in a variety of habitats, including open ocean and coastal waters, and are known to travel long distances in search of food.
Thresher sharks are generally found alone or in small groups and are known to inhabit deep, offshore waters.
They are known to be highly agile and are often seen leaping out of the water while hunting.
Greenland sharks are likely to travel alone and are known to inhabit deep, cold waters in the Arctic and North Atlantic.
They are one of the largest species of shark and are known to be slow-moving and sluggish, spending much of their time at depths of over 1,000 meters.
Whale sharks travel alone or in small groups and are known to inhabit tropical and subtropical waters around the world.
They are the largest species of fish in the world and are known to be filter feeders, feeding on small plankton and other microscopic organisms.
Bull sharks are generally solitary animals, but they may occasionally form small groups, or “schools,” when hunting or during mating season.
These groups are typically composed of females, as males are more solitary.
While bull sharks are not typically known for traveling in large schools like some other species of sharks, they have been known to exhibit social behavior, such as forming aggregations or joining other species of sharks in groups.
Why Do Shark’s Travel in Groups | Benefits of Travelling in Groups
Which is better: team or solitary sharking is common question. There are several potential benefits for sharks that travel in groups, including-
Increased Feeding Efficiency
Sharks that travel in groups may be able to coordinate their movements and hunt more effectively, which can increase their chances of finding and capturing prey.
Improved Protection from Predators
Sharks that travel in groups may be better able to defend themselves against predators, such as larger sharks or orcas.
Enhanced Social Interactions
Sharks that travel in groups may be able to engage in social behaviors, such as body-rubbing or biting at each other, which may be a form of communication or social bonding.
Greater Reproductive Success
Sharks that travel in groups may be able to find mates more easily and have increased reproductive success due to the increased opportunities for social interaction.
Better Navigation and Orientation
Sharks that travel in groups may be able to use social cues to navigate their environment and orient themselves, which can help them find food and other resources more effectively.
Drawbacks of Shark’s Travel in Groups
There are also some potential drawbacks for sharks that travel in groups, including:
Increased Competition for Resources
Sharks that travel in groups may face increased competition for food and other resources, which can lead to conflicts and aggression among individuals.
Increased Risk of Disease Transmission
Sharks that travel in groups may be more likely to transmit diseases to one another, as they are in close proximity and may be more likely to come into contact with infected individuals.
Decreased Individual Survival
Sharks that travel in groups may face increased competition for resources and may be more vulnerable to predators, which can lead to decreased individual survival rates.
Reduced Ability to Exploit New Habitats or Resources
Sharks that travel in groups may be less able to explore and exploit new habitats or resources, as they may be more dependent on the group for navigation and orientation.
How Do Sharks Travel?
Sharks are known for their strong swimming abilities and can travel long distances in the ocean. The way in which sharks travel can vary depending on the species and the circumstances.
One way that sharks can travel is through a behavior known as drift diving. Drift diving is an energy-saving strategy that involves alternating between periods of swimming and periods of drifting downward while conserving energy.
This behavior is often seen in species that have to swim constantly to keep water flowing over their gills, such as hammerhead sharks and some species of ray.
Do sharks stay in the same area?
Sharks are highly migratory animals and are known to travel long distances in search of food and mates. However, not all sharks are highly migratory.
Some species, such as the nurse shark and the bull shark, are more sedentary and tend to stay in a specific area or habitat for longer periods of time.
Sharks can either travel in groups or alone depending on the species and the circumstances. Some species of sharks, such as hammerhead sharks and blacktip sharks, are known to form schools or aggregations for various purposes, such as mating, hunting, or socializing.
Other species, such as great white sharks and tiger sharks, are more solitary and tend to travel alone or in small groups.
However, it is worth noting that shark behavior is highly variable and can change depending on various factors, such as the availability of food, the presence of predators, and the environmental conditions.
- “About Basking Sharks – Pacific Shark Research Center.” Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.
- Social dynamics and individual hunting tactics of white sharks revealed by biologging | Biology Letters. (2022). Biology Letters.
- The secret to the long migrations of great white sharks | Earth | EarthSky. (2013)
- Guzman, H., Collatos, C., & Gomez, C. (2022). Movement, Behavior, and Habitat Use of Whale Sharks (Rhincodon typus) in the Tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean. Frontiers In Marine Science, 9.
- Social dynamics and individual hunting tactics of white sharks revealed by biologging | Biology Letters. (2022).
- (2022). Retrieved 31 December 2022, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2022/03/24/great-white-sharks-hunt-together/7142765001/