Tuesday 2 February 2016

Shark with lowest-known metabolism is a sluggish success

Date:February 1, 2016
Source:Mote Marine Laboratory

Laziness can help you succeed… if you're a nurse shark.

A new research paper from Mote Marine Laboratory reveals that nurse sharks have the lowest metabolic rate measured in any shark -- new evidence of the sluggish lifestyle that has helped the species survive for millennia.

The study enhances knowledge about the metabolism of sharks -- marine predators whose energy needs are little-understood but suspected to play a big role in the workings of healthy ecosystems. The study recently debuted online and is slated for print in the April volume of the peer-reviewed Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. It was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Some sharks, like the large and active mako shark, are high-powered swimmers that chase swift prey and eat plenty to replenish their energy. In contrast, nurse sharks tend to loiter under rocks and find crevices where they can suck out lobsters, conchs, resting reef fish and other slow or unwary prey. Nurse sharks can pump water across their gills while lying on the bottom -- a relatively uncommon ability in sharks that enables low-energy loitering instead of constant swimming.

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