Great white sharks aren’t known for snuggling. But the soon-to-be-released book, “The Mice Who Sing for Sex and Other Weird Tales from the World of Science,” leads us to believe that maybe we just haven’t been setting the right musical mood. Enter heavy metal.
Authors Lliana Bird and neuroscientist Dr. Jack Lewis set out to examine animals’ relationship with music. They discovered Matt Waller, who operates charters in Australia’s shark-filled southern waters.
Waller told ABC News he’d heard reports from divers that the music they played in the water seemed to change the behavior of the sharks swimming around them.
So Waller decided to conduct a white shark experiment of his own. He said, “I started going through my albums and AC/DC was something that really hit the mark.”
… Their behavior was more investigative, more inquisitive and a lot less aggressive. They actually came past on a couple of occasions when we had the speaker in the water and rubbed their face along the speaker, which was really bizarre.”
Specifically, great white sharks seemed to get their zen on when they heard the songs “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “If You Want Blood (You Got It).” According to Bird and Waller, this is because sharks are attracted to their low-frequency pulsing sounds, which resonate at 20 to 60 cycles per second.
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So what does this say about great white sharks? Does it tell us who they are any more than shaking to Shakira or mellowing to Maroon 5 reveals about us?
Scientists are still in the dark on this one.
Musical preference is something we barely understand in ourselves. It was only last year that scientists discovered, through interactions with indigenous tribes in the Amazon, that our preference for consonant sounds (like the chords of C and G) as opposed to dissonant sounds (like C and F#) is not innate to our humanity but is instead dependent on the culture we grew up in.
Great white shark researcher Dr. Jonathon Werry thinks that the heavy metal-loving sharks might simply be curious about the new sound. “Sharks have really well-developed senses,” Werry told ABC. “Anything new is something they will often investigate.”
Human heavy metal aficionados often claim similar reasoning for their musical tastes. They gravitate toward music that’s complex, difficult to play, and not what anyone would describe as boring.
Because as any heavy metal aficionado will also tell you, AC/DC isn’t metal.