It seems that sharks are indeed more sophisticated than many people would like to think, as two researchers at the Macquarie University Fish Lab have found. Yet for all their intelligence, it seems that these predators of the deep may need some more time to figure out their musical tastes. However, food is one incentive, as PhD student Catarina Vila-Pouca and Professor Culum Brown have discovered, with sharks able to identify jazz music if there are treats involved.

Port Jackson shark. Photo © Bluebottle Films

“Sound is really important for aquatic animals, it travels well under water and fish use it to find food, hiding places and even to communicate,” said Vila-Pouca in a press release.

For the study, published in  Animal Cognition, Vila-Pouca and Brown played jazz music from speakers situated at one end of a tank, training juvenile Port Jackson sharks to swim to a feeding station to get their reward. Out of the eight sharks, five seemed to recognise the particular rhythms of jazz music and associate them with a good time.

But, as Brown said, sharks can’t immediately distinguish between genres. When played both jazz and classical music out of different speakers...

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