Two great white sharks break a record and travel more than 6,400 kilometers together – Ouest France evening edition – October 26, 2023 – evening edition

In 2023, two great white sharks traveled together over 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometers) along the North American Atlantic coast for several months. If the sharks can follow each other for several hours, it will be the first time that a synchronized migration has spanned such a large distance. Have sharks “decided” to swim together? Can they become friends? Explanations.

What if sharks could become friends with each other? This is the new hypothesis that has been puzzling scientists for several weeks. On August 6, 2023, “Two young great white sharks named Simon and Jekyll became famous after a post on social media “, notes National Geographic magazine. We learn that the two individuals together swam more than 4,000 miles along the North American Atlantic coast.

“We have never seen anything like this before” assures Bob Hueter, scientific director of Ocearch, in a video published on social networks by the non-profit organization specializing in shark monitoring. Normally, great white sharks lead a very solitary life. Swimming in the same place, at the same time, “Simon and Jekyll seem to be friends” comments the expert.

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From the USA to Canada

In December 2022 as part of a study on great white sharks in the Northwest Atlantic – “a population that is less well studied than others in the world,” points out National Geographic – the Ocearch scientific team placed GPS tags on the two sharks. Since then, Simon and Jekyll appear to have traveled together more than 4,000 miles along the Atlantic coast from the southeastern United States to Atlantic Canada. On Monday, October 23, 2023, Jekyll was spotted off the coast of New York after crossing Canadian waters. Simon was last seen on October 10 off the coast of Quebec in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

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On social networks, this sudden closeness between the two great sea predators has left Internet users questioning. Did the sharks know each other before, are they friends? “Friendship involves an emotional relationship. That is not the case hereexplains Yannis Papastamatiou, a biologist at Florida International University, in an interview with National Geographic. “Sharks do not form emotional bonds with each other. The same applies to most animals. » This was the result of an American study published in the journal Marine Biology and passed on by National Geographic “that they can stay nearby while hunting to take advantage of leftover food after a capture.”

“They swim about ten kilometers apart”

Johann Mourier, behavioral ecology researcher and shark specialist, prefers to talk about friendship rather than friendship “Synchronization of migration routes”. You explain: “If we closely observe their movements, we notice that Simon and Jekyll are swimming tens of kilometers apart. One cannot speak of sociality, the two individuals do not really follow each other, there is no contact between them. What is interesting, however, is the duration of this synchronization. They followed each other from a distance for several weeks, which is rare. It can be assumed that they are guided by the same environmental stimuli. »

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The researchers suggest another explanation for this sudden closeness. Scientists who have collected numerous blood, tissue and muscle samples are currently conducting genetic tests to determine whether Simon and Jekyll are brothers or half-brothers. If the response is positive, this data could provide new information to better understand the connections between great white sharks. Although interesting, the observation of this new closeness must be viewed with caution. “At the moment it only affects two people, the experience needs to be repeated” warns Johann Mourier.