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Expert Voices

Social Sharks (Gallery)

The shark-whisperer

sharks, animal behavior, lemon sharks

(Image credit: Ila France Porcher )

Ila France Porcher is a self-taught, published ethologist and author of "The Shark Sessions." A successful wildlife artist, she documented the behavior of animals she painted. In Tahiti, intrigued by the native sharks, she launched an intensive study to systematically swim with them and record their actions, following the precepts of cognitive ethology. Credited with the discovery of a way to study sharks without killing them, Porcher has been called "the Jane Goodall of Sharks" for her documentation of their intelligence in the wild. She contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Shark behavior is complex, with the animals exhibiting dramatic social traits and making decisions based on experience.

Forever friends?

sharks, animal behavior, Tiger shark companions

(Image credit: Ila France Porcher )

Two female tiger sharks roaming together. Observations of tiger sharks suggest that they may roam with a companion.

Social butterflies

sharks, animal behavior, caribbean reef sharks

(Image credit: Ila France Porcher )

Like their distant relatives in French Polynesia, Caribbean reef sharks also appear to enjoy socializing.

One-of-a-kind

sharks, animal behavior, lemon sharks

(Image credit: Ila France Porcher )

A lemon shark poses for a portrait. Each shark is an individual, with unique responses, its own pattern of spending its time, and its own rate of learning.

Buddies

sharks, animal behavior, juvenile companions

(Image credit: Ila France Porcher )

Shark companions are usually of the same gender and age. Here two young companions unite, after circling away from each other for a time.

Got a wingman

sharks, animal behavior, bull shark companions

(Image credit: Ila France Porcher )

Two male bull sharks traveling together. Nose-to-tail swimming is common among sharks — with males and juveniles, as well as females.

What's up?

sharks, animal behavior, Blackfin reef shark

(Image credit: Ila France Porcher )

The blackfin reef shark, Carcharhinus melanopterus.

Hanging out

sharks, animal behavior, Lemon sharks socializing

(Image credit: Ila France Porcher )

Caribbean reef sharks socializing together. Shark roaming correlates with the lunar phase, and thrilled shark congregations that form as the full moon rises, when visiting sharks are present, are often dramatic.

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