Escape response kinematics in two species of tropical shark: short escape latencies and high turning performance

Trujillo, José E., Bouyoucos, Ian, Rayment, William J., Domenici, Paolo, Planes, Serge, Rummer, Jodie L., and Allan, Bridie J.M. (2022) Escape response kinematics in two species of tropical shark: short escape latencies and high turning performance. Journal of Experimental Biology, 225 (22). jeb243973.

PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (3MB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website:


Accelerative manoeuvres, such as fast-starts, are crucial for fish to avoid predation. Escape responses are fast-starts that include fundamental survival traits for prey that experience high predation pressure. However, no previous study has assessed escape performance in neonate tropical sharks. We quantitatively evaluated vulnerability traits of neonate tropical sharks by testing predictions on their fast-start escape performance. We predicted (1) high manoeuvrability, given their high flexibility, but (2) low propulsive locomotion owing to the drag costs associated with pectoral fin extension during escape responses. Further, based on previous work on dogfish, Squalus suckleyi, we predicted (3) long reaction times (as latencies longer than teleosts, >20 ms). We used two-dimensional, high-speed videography analysis of mechano-acoustically stimulated neonate blacktip reef shark, Carcharhinus melanopterus (n=12), and sicklefin lemon shark, Negaprion acutidens (n=8). Both species performed a characteristic C-start double-bend response (i.e. two body bends), but single-bend responses were only observed in N. acutidens. As predicted, neonate sharks showed high manoeuvrability with high turning rates and tight turning radii (3–11% of body length) but low propulsive performance (i.e. speed, acceleration and velocity) when compared with similar-sized teleosts and S. suckleyi. Contrary to expectations, escape latencies were <20 ms in both species, suggesting that the neurophysiological system of sharks when reacting to a predatory attack may not be limited to long response times. These results provide a quantitative assessment of survival traits in neonate tropical sharks that will be crucial for future studies that consider the vulnerability of these sharks to predation.

Item ID: 77606
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1477-9145
Keywords: Antipredator behaviour, Fast-starts, Vulnerability traits
Copyright Information: © 2022. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2023 04:36
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 373
Last 12 Months: 57
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page