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Can sharks predict weather?

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As hurricane season begins to come into sight and weather forecasters will soon meet to discuss their predictions for the 2014 hurricane season, we are learning that there may be another way to predict hurricane patterns.

One of the most feared creatures of the ocean is the shark. We respect their power and prowess as a predator of the deep but the ominous behavior that they display has shaken up even the best of swimmers. However, there are parts of the genetic makeup of a shark that can lead to assisting forecasters predict the arrival of hurricanes. Timing is everything as strong winds and heavy rains approach.

Much like a human's inner ear, the shark is equipped with a vestibular system which has a series of hairs along it that can sense changes in barometric pressure. Research has shown that when a hurricane approaches, the barometric pressure drops and this causes a chain reaction in the shark. Normally sharks stick somewhat close to the shore to our dismay and prefer shallower water. Once a hurricane is making its way, the shark senses that and will tend to swim farther and faster out to deeper waters to continue with the normality that they are used to. When forecasters see that happening, they can predict the timing of the storm and better prepare residents. Once the hurricane has moved on or dissipates, the sharks will return back to the waters that they are used to.

While this whole theory is still in its early stages and research continues into how the two can be interrelated and how this knowledge can be best used to forecasters' advantage, we certainly continue to be amazed at our marine world and its inhabitants.



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