As soon as you step into the oceanic waters, you often see a shark approaching your way. You wonder how sharks are able to hear or see people step into the water. In addition, it is fascinating to observe how sharks respond to hearing even though we see there are no external ears. Well, it needs to be figured out: do sharks have ears and how sharks hear underwater?
Sharks are magnificent marine creatures inhabiting the world’s oceans for thousands of years. Ever since their existence, they have evolved into over 500 species; however, each one of them is believed to be smart, intelligent, and own different sense organs. At the same time, several species of sharks, such as the great white and tiger sharks, are considered to be apex predators of the oceans.
Sharks come in all varying sizes, shapes, colors, and behavior. From their environment to their diet, each species of shark possesses different characteristics. It is through their intelligence and adaptive behavior that sharks have been able to pass through mass extinction events.
The anatomy of sharks holds distinct features, such as the fins, that often help in their identification. Sharks are known to have a great sense of smell and sight, and those who think sharks are blind live in a fool’s world.
Sharks are not deaf either, despite what you may believe. Sharks have an excellent sense of hearing and can listen to prey from great distances. Strength and power are certainly important when it comes to ruling marine creatures, but great senses are equally important as well. So, it is wrong to think sharks are mindless creatures, but they are smart and hold acute senses. Plus, they also have some unique senses known as lateral lines and electroreception.
However, have you seen an ear on sharks? Probably not. Then how come sharks have a hearing ability? Let’s find out.
Do sharks have ears?
For humans, hearing ability is determined by the presence of ears, and the same holds true for animals. While we can easily recognize the ears of a variety of animals, the anatomy of sharks is much different. It is known that sharks are capable of hearing, but there is speculation as to whether they have ears as well.
It’s time to burst the bubble; sharks have ears, not externally but from within, through which they can hear everything loud and clear. Among all its senses, sharks’ hearing is probably their most acute, allowing them to detect prey at a distance.
Where are the ears of a shark?
Having determined that sharks do indeed have ears, probably the next question on your mind is where you can see them. As mentioned earlier, sharks have internal hearing systems, so you cannot see their ears like you would in other animals.
There are, however, two tiny openings behind each eye on most sharks, so small that you wouldn’t recognize them if you didn’t know what they were. It is through these small holes that the inner ears, which are to be found inside their heads, can be examined.
How do sharks hear underwater?
In general, sharks’ internal ears resemble those of humans, but sharks’ are much more sensitive. A shark’s inner ear is also responsible for balance, just as it is in humans. Sharks can even hear the sound struggling fishes make, and that too from a great distance.
Three semicircular canals, called sacculus, lagena, and utriculus, constitute the shark’s ear and are responsible for balance and hearing.
The shark’s inner ear is filled with tiny hairs called stereocilia that vibrate, causing the brain to interpret the vibration as sound. A shark is able to hear in multiple directions due to the stereocilia enclosed within three fluid-filled tubes.
A shark’s ears are tuned to hearing deep, low-pitched sounds best, but they can also hear sounds up to 800 hertz.
Some studies have shown sharks will detect sounds from over a mile away, depending on the magnitude and distance of the source.
This does not correlate with each other. You can simply mention, “It has been believed for a long time that sharks do not have ears-but research has claimed that they do have an internal hearing system which is the best one to hear sounds even traveling from far far away.
The ocean is a noisier place than one might believe, and in order for species like sharks to find food, sound is one of the most important senses. It is interesting to note that shark ears function somewhat similarly to human ears, except the sharks’ ears are more sensitive to sound.