The shark appeared “to be in an almost catatonic state.”
As part of this year’s Shark Week, Discovery has posted this incredible clip from the show Jaws of the Deep, in which underwater cameras are used to observe shark behavior.
The team captured what the Discovery’s YouTube channel calls the “first-ever footage of a great white shark napping.”
While tracking a female shark swimming close to the shore off of Guadalupe Island in the Pacific Ocean, the team noticed a dramatic shift in her behavior around 8:30 pm — shark naptime had begun. Though she continued to move forward, the shark’s jaw gaped open and the narrator noted that she appeared “to be in an almost catatonic state.”
Like other fish, sharks absorb oxygen from seawater as it passes over their gills. Shark gills sit in a row behind the head. As they swim, water is forced over these gills and through the mouth — this is why some sharks must be constantly on the move, even during naptime.
But contrary to common belief, most sharks will not drown if they stop swimming. When at rest, many species will actively pump water over their gills to keep their oxygen levels up.
The muscles of great white sharks are not strong enough to pump water, so they, like a small number of other shark species, must forge ahead in order to breathe.
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