Review of Magnetic Shark Deterrents: Hypothetical Mechanisms and Evidence for Selectivity

Joshua Courtney, Ya’el Courtney, Michael Courtney


Several papers published since 2006 describe effects of magnetic fields on elasmobranchs and assess their utility in reducing negative interactions between sharks and humans, including bycatch reduction. Most of these repeat a single untested hypothesis regarding physical mechanisms by which elasmobranchs detect magnetic fields and also neglect careful consideration of magnetoreception in teleosts. Several species of teleosts are known to have magnetoreception based in biogenic magnetite, and direct magnetic field detection also has support in several species of elasmobranchs. The overly narrow focus of earlier papers on the unsupported hypothesis that magnetoreception in elasmobranchs is based in the ampullae of Lorenzini creates the impression that all teleosts will be insensitive to magnetic deterrents. However, magnetite based magnetoreception has been demonstrated in several teleosts, and is supported in others. Furthermore, electroreception is present in many teleost species; therefore, the possibility of induction based indirect magnetoreception should be considered. Finally, experiments reported as demonstrating insensitivity in teleost species to magnetic deterrents suffer from inadequate design and sample sizes to reject the hypothesis of magnetic detection in any given species. Since adoption of deterrent hook technologies depends on both deterrent effects in sharks and the absence of effects in target teleosts, the hypothesis of detection in teleost species must be independently tested with adequate sample sizes.

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Copyright (c) 2014 Joshua Courtney, Ya’el Courtney, Michael Courtney

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Aquatic Science and Technology  ISSN 2168-9148


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