Sharks are undeniably one of the world’s deadliest apex predators. Well, that’s what some people believe, while some think they are not actually dangerous to humans but instead are often the victims of human attack. Whatever the argument is, one thing is sure – sharks are fearsome, as often depicted in movies. But unlike how we associate lions with a roar, it is not exactly clear what sounds a shark makes.
So, do sharks make noise?
Not really! Sharks do not have vocal cords for producing sounds the way humans and many other animals do. In fact, their movement through the water often goes undetected, which is why they are often regarded as silent hunters.
Having said that, sharks are not completely mute; instead, they have a different way of communicating.
Sharks are not the only ones without vocal cords; whales and dolphins are also configured the same way.
Do Sharks Have Vocal Cords?
Unlike humans and many other animals, sharks do not have vocal cords or any other specialized organ for producing sound. That is why they can’t make noise!
This is quite the opposite with most land animals, as they are quite vocal and use sound to communicate different things. These could include showing dominance (especially when they need to protect their territory), giving a warning sign, showing they feel threatened, attracting a mate, or communicating with other animals.
In fact, the level of communication is more advanced in humans, especially in the mode of conversation.
The noises made by most land animals are through the respiratory system. The process is as follows:
- The animal exhales air through the lungs.
- As the “glides” over some skin flaps in the throat, it causes them to vibrate and produce a particular type of sound. The skin flaps are simply the vocal cords.
- To change the sound, the larynx muscles stretch and contract the vocal cords. The larynx is also known as the voice box.
- The actual modification of the sound happens in the upper throat. This can be a call, bark, roar, or actual speech, depending on the animal.
The lack of vocal cords in sharks means they are not capable of producing or modifying sound through the vocal cords and larynx.
Why Don’t Sharks Make Noise?
As earlier indicated, the absence of a vocal organ makes it impossible for sharks to create sounds with their mouth. However, this doesn’t mean they’re incapable of producing sound via other means, particularly through their movements and interactions with the water.
For instance, a shark might slap the water with its tail, which can create a noticeable sound.
Some sharks also create sound by rubbing their fins, grinding their teeth, or inflating their swim bladder and making a bark.
In general, different shark species produce sounds in various ways without using vocal cords.
Some research even suggests that certain species, such as the bamboo shark, may produce high-frequency sounds when threatened. However, these sounds are typically below the range of human hearing.
How Do Sharks Communicate?
So, what kind of noise do sharks make?
Sharks communicate mainly through body language. Specific movements, postures, and behaviors can signal a wide range of messages to other sharks. For instance, an aggressive posture might warn off a competitor, while rapid, erratic movements could indicate stress or alarm.
Vibrations are another way sharks communicate. Sharks are very sensitive to vibrations in the water, which they detect through a network of sensory organs known as the lateral line. These vibrations can signal the presence of prey, predators, or other sharks.
As earlier indicated, some species of sharks may also produce low-frequency sounds that can be detected by other marine life. These sounds are likely created through their physical interactions with the water and not through vocalizations.
NOTE: Sharks also have a unique ability to detect electrical fields. This is possible because of an organ known as the ampullae of Lorenzini. This allows them to sense the electrical signals produced by other animals, such as fish and crustaceans.
Can Sharks Hear?
Yes, sharks can hear. They have a highly developed sense of hearing and can detect sounds and vibrations in the water over great distances.
They have internal ears located inside their heads on both sides. These ears are designed to pick up sounds and vibrations in the water, help them locate prey, navigate their environment, and potentially communicate with other sharks.
In fact, they can hear sounds as low as 10 Hz, which is way below what humans can hear.
Other Related Questions About Shark Sounds
Do Sharks Make Clicking Noise?
Sharks have not been observed making clicking noises. Unlike some marine mammals that use clicks for echolocation or communication, they lack the vocal structures necessary to produce such sounds. Most shark noises are typically the result of their movements and interactions with the water.
Do Sharks Make Growling Noises?
No, sharks do not make growling noises. Again, they do not have the vocal organs required to produce such sounds. Any growling sound attributed to a shark is likely the result of creative sound effects added in media. In reality, sharks are silent hunters, and their mode of communication is adapted to their underwater environment.
Do Bala Sharks Make Noise?
Bala sharks, despite their name, are actually a species of minnow. They’re known for their active swimming behavior, which might create a series of low-frequency vibrations in the water. However, there’s not much research evidence to suggest that they indeed make noise. It is likely that they communicate primarily through body language and vibrations, like most other species.
Why Do Sharks Roar in Movies?
Sharks roaring in movies is purely a fictional element added for dramatic effect. In reality, sharks do not have the vocal cords necessary to produce such sounds. The terrifying roars you hear in films are sound effects designed to heighten tension and fear.
Conclusion: Do Sharks Make Noise?
So, do sharks make noise? The answer is both yes and no. While sharks do not have the capability to produce vocal sounds like some marine creatures, they do generate noise through their movements and actions.
Furthermore, they rely heavily on sensing vibrations in the water for communication and survival. They also use olfactory organs to smell prey.
When you think about it, sharks don’t need to make noise. In fact, it can be a distraction when stalking prey, considering their massive size.
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