Sharks can be cuddled like dolphins

From Telegraph.

Sharks can be trained like dolphins to feed from keepers, roll over and enjoy cuddles, according to new research.

In experiments carried out in the US some varieties of shark allowed themselves to be picked from the water and cuddled.

Keepers at the UK's Sea Life Centres will now use the training techniques in the hope that they will end up with hundreds of trained sharks.

The experts at the aquariums are to begin a period of intensive tuition by using coloured boards and sounds to train the sharks in a similar way to that used by the scientist Ivan Pavlov in training dogs.

It will mean that feeding becomes easier because each shark in a tank will know when it is their turn to feed.

The Sea Life centres have many different types of shark and within just three months the brightest ones should be responding to commands.

Sharks learn the signals then, when they see or hear them, they approach the keeper who holds a "target stick".

The sharks then rub their noses against the stick and wait until they are fed.

No one had attempted to train sharks in this way before, but it could now teach experts a great deal about the creatures.

Carey Duckhouse, of Sea Life, said: "The US team has shown that many varieties of sharks can quickly learn to respond to a combination of audible and visual signals.

"A shark answers its own sound and colour signal by putting its nose on a target-stick held by the trainer, and keeping it there until it receives food.

"Some species, such as zebra sharks, will even roll over to have their tummies scratched or allow themselves to be lifted from the water without any kind of struggle.

"The implications for improving shark welfare are enormous. It means when we have to move them we can get the sharks to swim to a certain spot rather than have to chase them around."

Just How Smart Are Dolphins?.


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