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4 Colors That Attract Sharks

silky shark
View of a silky shark from bellow. Image by Nicosbs via depositphotos.com

Lets find out what and why sharks are attracted to colors.

Why Sharks Are Attracted to Certain Colors

Tiger shark
Tiger sharks have excellent sense of smell and sight. Image via Kris Mikael Krister, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sharks are attracted to certain colors due to their unique visual perception and hunting strategies. Their eyes are adapted to detect contrast and motion, which play crucial roles in their ability to locate prey in diverse marine environments. Here’s why specific colors can attract sharks:

High Contrast:

soupfin shark
A female school shark (Galeorhinus galeus) photographed using a Baited Remote Underwater. Image by AshlieJMcivor, CC BY-SA 4.0.
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sharks have excellent contrast sensitivity, meaning they can easily detect objects that stand out against the background of the water. Colors like yellow, white, and black create strong contrasts, making them more noticeable to sharks.

Light Reflectivity:

Great white shark
Great white shark at Isla Guadalupe, Mexico. Image via Terry Goss, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

Colors that reflect a lot of light, such as silver and white, mimic the appearance of fish scales glinting in the water. This can attract sharks as it resembles the natural appearance of their prey.

Environmental Adaptation:

Horn shark off Santa Catalina, California
Horn shark off Santa Catalina, California. By Ed Bierman from CA, usa – Horn Shark, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7059687

Sharks’ vision is adapted to the ocean’s lighting conditions. In murky or dim water, bright and reflective colors are more visible. This heightened visibility makes it easier for sharks to detect potential food sources.

Specific Colors and Their Effects

Whale Shark
Whale Shark. Image by criso via DepositPhotos

Yellow:

Blacktip shark
Oceanic blacktip shark (Carcharhinus limbatus) and remora fish underwater in Natal, South Africa. Image by longjourneys via depositphotos.com

Often referred to as “yum-yum yellow,” this color is highly visible underwater. Its brightness contrasts sharply with the blue and green hues of the ocean, making it an easy target for sharks’ keen eyesight.

White:

bull shark
Bull Shark. Image by Andaman via depositphotos.com

White objects create a stark contrast in the water, especially in darker or deeper environments. This contrast can attract sharks by standing out against the surrounding water.

Silver:

Blacknose shark
Blacknose shark Carcharhinus acronotus swims across the coral reef in tropical waters. Image by stephstarr9363@gmail.com via depositphotos.com

Shiny, reflective surfaces can attract sharks as they mimic the natural light reflections from fish scales. This glinting effect can draw sharks’ attention, as it suggests the presence of fish.

Black:

spinner shark
Spinner shark (Carcharhinus brevipinna). Image by Apex Predators Program, NOAA/NEFSC, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Dark objects can also stand out, particularly against lighter backgrounds or in clear water. The strong contrast between black and other colors can make black objects more noticeable to sharks.

Less Attractive Colors

Tiger Shark (galelcerdo cuvieri), underwater view.
Image by londondeposit on depositphots

Colors that blend in with the ocean environment, such as darker blues and greens, tend to be less attractive to sharks. These colors do not create as strong a contrast against the water, making them less noticeable to the sharks’ eyes.

Understanding the visual perception of sharks helps explain why certain colors attract them more than others. When in shark-prone waters, it’s advisable to avoid wearing high-contrast or reflective colors to minimize the risk of attracting these predators.

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