What Does A Shark Sound Like?

Sharks are primarily silent creatures, relying on body language and vibrations to communicate. However, some species can generate noises through their unique anatomical features or by grinding their teeth.

When it comes to how sharks create and hear sounds, they possess a lateral line system running along their bodies, which enables them to pick up vibrations in the water. Their inner ears contain tiny hair cells that move in response to sound waves, allowing them to detect potential prey, predators, or other environmental factors. By using these specialized sensory systems, sharks can efficiently navigate the vast underwater landscape in search of food and shelter.

Discovering Shark Sounds

Researchers have been fascinated by the sonic world of sharks, seeking to understand the different types of sounds they produce and their potential purposes. While sharks primarily communicate non-verbally through body language, some species have been found to create noises that may serve distinct functions.

Various types of shark sounds discovered so far include:

  • Crunching or cracking noises: Produced by some species like the Tawny Nurse Shark, these sounds can occur when they forcibly exhale through their spiracles or rub their pharyngeal (throat) teeth together.
  • Popping or smacking sounds: These can be created by certain shark species while hunting or feeding, likely caused by the rapid closing of their jaws.

Despite these sonic discoveries, much is still unknown about the purpose of these sounds in shark communication. Some researchers believe that the noises may act as an intimidation tactic, warning other sharks or potential prey of their presence, while others speculate that they might help attract a mate.

In general, sharks tend to rely heavily on body language and vibrations to communicate underwater. These silent means of interaction include visual displays, like altering their body posture, and the use of their lateral line system to sense water movements coming from other creatures or objects, making communication efficient and discreet in the vast ocean environment.

The “Barking” Behavior of the Draughtsboard Shark

The Draughtsboard shark, also known as the Swell shark (Cephaloscyllium laticeps), possesses a remarkable ability among sharks to produce distinctive sounds, resembling a unique “barking” behavior.

When faced with a potential threat, the Draughtsboard shark engages in a fascinating vocalization process. It rapidly inhales a significant amount of air using its specialized pharynx. Then, with a forceful expulsion of air, it creates a sound reminiscent of a bark or crunching noise. This behavior sets the Draughtsboard shark apart from its silent counterparts, making it a remarkable exception in the world of sharks.

The purpose of this barking behavior is still under investigation. One hypothesis suggests that it serves as a defensive mechanism, warning or intimidating potential predators. The sudden and unexpected noise produced by the shark may startle or deter threats, allowing the shark valuable time to escape or find shelter.

How Sharks Create and Hear Sounds

As ocean animals without vocal cords, sharks rely on alternative methods for sound production and detecting sounds in their underwater environment. Understanding how they create and perceive sounds gives us a better picture of their intriguing lives beneath the waves as well as their methods of communication and survival.

Sharks produce sounds in the following ways:

  • Forcible exhalation: Some species generate noise by pushing air out through their spiracles, the small openings behind their eyes.
  • Body movements: Shark noises can also result from specific body movements, such as teeth grinding or jaw snapping during feeding.

When it comes to hearing, sharks possess impressive physical mechanisms:

  • Lateral line system: A series of small pores and canals along their bodies help sharks detect vibrations and water movements, allowing them to sense the direction and distance of potential prey or other sources of sound.
  • Inner ear structures: Tiny hair cells within their inner ears move in response to sound waves, translating these vibrations into nerve signals that their brains can interpret.

Despite the absence of vocal cords, sharks have evolved other ways to produce recognizable sounds and are highly sensitive to the noises in their underwater realm. By employing these unique auditory mechanisms, they effectively navigate their environment and communicate with their surroundings, ensuring their ongoing survival in the complex oceanic ecosystem.


In conclusion, the enigmatic world of shark sounds has captivated researchers and marine enthusiasts alike. Although primarily silent communicators, some shark species exhibit a fascinating array of sounds, like clicks or crunching noises generated through various physical mechanisms, including forcible exhalation, teeth grinding, and body movements. As we continue to unravel the secrets of these magnificent ocean animals, our understanding of their modes of communication and life beneath the waves deepens, providing us with valuable insight into their ecological roles and the intricate web of marine life.