Study Shows Nurse Sharks Are Able To “Walk” On The Ocean Floor To Find Food

A recent study revealed something unusual about nurse sharks that’s new to scientists: They can “walk” on the ocean floor to find food.

The study, titled “Opportunistic camera surveys provide insight into discrete foraging behaviours in nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum),” was published in the Environmental Biology of Fishes journal in early November, 2022.

Photo: Flickr/NOAA Photo Library License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Researchers from the University of Exeter in England partnered with the nonprofit Beneath the Waves and used underwater cameras in Turks and Caicos to capture the behavior.

In the footage, you can see the nurse sharks doing what appears to be a headstand of sorts as they feed on the ocean floor.

Photo: YouTube/Beneath The Waves

The study revealed that nurse sharks can use a wider range of feeding behaviors than previously believed, and they can even use their fins to search for food.

When most people imagine a shark looking for some food, they picture the apex predator swimming around in search of some fish. What people don’t expect, however, is to see a shark scrounging on the ground like a bottom-feeder. But as researchers revealed, nurse sharks can use head down feeding (vertical feeding) or belly-up feeding (ventral feeding), in additional to “pectoral positioning” feeding.

Photo: YouTube/Beneath The Waves

It’s the “pectoral positioning” that requires the shark to move its pectoral fins in a way that resembles walking.

Beneath The Waves shared a video of the sharks “walking” on YouTube and you can see it for yourself below:

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