A scalloped hammerhead shark © Borut Furlan / Getty
They do – along with additional senses that enable them to detect electrical signals and vibrations in the water.
Small pores on a shark’s snout, known as ‘ampullae of Lorenzini’, can detect the tiny electrical currents in the water given off by living animals and inanimate objects, such as camera strobes and propellers. Sharks use this sense, known as ‘electroreception’, to build an electrical map of their surroundings, allowing them to find prey and avoid potential predators.
Some species, such as hammerheads, are even able to locate prey buried in the sand, making them experts at hunting stingrays.
Sharks can also detect pressure differences in the water. Though this can be considered as an extension of touch, some count it as a seventh sense. The fish achieve this through a system of subcutaneous nerve endings that run from the head all along the body, known as the lateral line.
The sharks’ movements create waves that bounce off obstacles around them allowing them to create a map of their surroundings.
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