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Rare Footage of Hammerhead Sharks Swimming in Cyclones Around Ancient Volcano Emitting Strange Signals

In what can be termed as a strange development, hundreds of hammerhead sharks were discovered swimming in a cyclone formation around an ancient volcano in the Pacific Ocean. The video at the end of this article captured the rare event featured in the third episode of Netflix’s “Our Living World.” It describes how something was drawing the sharks to the location.

Discovering the Hammerhead Cyclone

hammerhead shark cyclone
Hammerhead shark cyclone. Source: YouTube, Channel: Netflix

The hammerhead cyclone, or as scientists called it “The Hammerhead Ball” revealed hundreds of sharks forming a swirling vortex around Cocos Island, a volcanic island off the coast of Costa Rica. The mystery is why were they being drawn to the location. Extensive research threw up a stunning revelation.

Cocos Island: A Volcanic Haven

Cocos Island
Cocos Island. Source: YouTube, Channel: Netflix

Located about 310 miles southwest of mainland Costa Rica, Cocos Island is a unique volcanic formation that rises 12,000 feet above the seabed. The island formed when lava erupted from an ancient underwater volcano and solidified, eventually rising 12,000 feet (3,660 meters) above the seabed.

Secret Signals from the Seabed

Seabed Cocos Island
Seabed mapping of Cocos Island. Source: YouTube, Channel: Netflix

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Deep sea research within the vicinity of the hammerhead vortex found how the sharks were being drawn to the island by electromagnetic signals emanating from the volcanic rocks, which guide them across vast ocean distances.

A Mysterious Migration

hammerhead shark migration
Hammerhead Ball. Source: YouTube, Channel: Netflix

Scientists are still studying the electromagnetic signals. They are still puzzled by how and why the sharks travel such long distances to gather at Cocos Island each year. Adding to the mystery is also how Coco’s Island is a known haven for endangered hammerhead sharks. What is puzzling is why so many of them endeavor to cross large swathes of ocean to attend this hammerhead convention.

Following a Young Female Hammerhead

hammerhead closeup
Tracking of a female hammerhead. Source: YouTube, Channel: Netflix

In the documentary, filmmakers tracked a young female hammerhead shark as she journeyed 300 miles from her coastal nursery to join the swirling assembly at Cocos Island. The female instinctively knew how to reach the Island thanks to electromagnetic signals emanating from volcanic rocks on the slopes of the island.

The Role of Volcanic Rocks

volcanic rocks
Volcanic rock formation, Cocos Island. Source: YouTube, Channel: Free Documentary Nature

The electromagnetic signals from the hardened volcanic rocks on Cocos Island’s slopes are thought to play a crucial role in guiding the sharks to this unique gathering spot. One female shark tracked by the researchers travelled 300 miles from her coastal nursery to join the swirling assembly. Was it some mating meeting that researchers had never figured out

The Gathering Vortex

gathering of hammerheads
The gathering. Source: YouTube, Channel: Netflix

The footage captures the mesmerizing sight of hundreds of hammerhead sharks forming a cyclone-like vortex around the island, a behavior that remains a mystery to scientists. The video clip shows the young female joining hundreds of hammerhead sharks as they form a vortex around the island.

Previous Gatherings

hammerhead congregation
Previous gatherings have been documented. Source: YouTube, Channel: Free Documentary Nature

This phenomenon isn’t entirely new; a similar gathering of hammerhead sharks was documented in the waters of French Polynesia, although that assembly only attracted female sharks.

Highlighting Connectivity

hammerhead shark
Hammerheads have their own connectivity. Source: YouTube, Channel: Netflix

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The series aims to show how individual animal behaviors are part of a larger web of life, illustrating the interconnectedness of different species and ecosystems.

Sharks and Volcanoes

Hammerhead sharks
A large hammerhead in the congregation. Source: YouTube, Channel: Netflix

The revelation that hammerhead sharks rely on volcanic signals for navigation was one of the standout moments for the filmmakers, underscoring the surprising and complex relationships between sharks and volcanoes.

Sharkano

Kavachi Volcano
Kavachi Volcano. Source: YouTube, Channel: Netflix

In 2022, marine researchers discovered how sharks were living in the submerged crater of the Kavachi volcano. The underwater volcano is located in the waters off the Solomon Islands, in the ocean near Australia and Papua New Guinea. The volcano began eruptive activity in October 2021, yet that did not deter the sharks from living inside it.

Two species lived in the volcano

shark living inside volcano
Hammerhead discovered inside Kavachi Volcano. Source: YouTube, Channel: National Geographic

A 2015 expedition to Kavachi revealed two shark species, including hammerheads, residing in the submerged crater. Kavachi’s submarine plumes, filled with superheated, acidic water, also contained particulate matter, volcanic rock fragments, and sulfur. Remarkably, scientists found that microbial communities were thriving on the sulfur in these harsh conditions.

They have super sensory abilities

Hammerhead in sea
Hammerheads have super sensory abilities. Source: YouTube, Channel: Netflix

Hammerhead sharks are easily identified by their unique, elongated, and flattened heads. This distinctive feature enhances their visual range and houses sensory organs that detect electrical fields of their prey. These sensory capabilities also help them sense magnetic fields from lava flows of nearby seamounts, guiding them across vast ocean distances to gather with other hammerheads in specific locations.

A possible mating convention

Hammerhead mating
Hammerhead gathering to choose mates. Source: YouTube, Channel: Netflix

A possible explanation for the strange hammerhead vortex around Kavachi volcano is a mating ritual. While hammerheads are solitary nocturnal hunters, they will often meet in large congregations for mating. One large congregation discovered in the Sea of Cortez saw a massive aggregation of over 500 mating hammerheads.

Hammerhead sharks are endangered

Hammerhead Shark Image via Depositphoto
Hammerhead Shark Image via Depositphotos

Hammerhead sharks are highly sought after for their valuable fins and often end up as bycatch. With the lowest recovery potentials among shark species, they are extremely vulnerable to extinction.

Our Living World” premiered on April 17, 2024, on Netflix, offering viewers a closer look at the fascinating and often hidden connections that sustain life on Earth. The show rightly emphasizes the importance of showcasing these extraordinary natural events to highlight the complexity and wonder of the natural world.

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