Shark Community: Do Sharks Travel In Groups?

do sharks travel in groups

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Sharks are some of the most feared animals on earth. With large, razor-sharp teeth and a powerful body that is 85% muscle in some species, it’s no wonder these animals have a fierce reputation.

But what’s more terrifying than a large apex predator swimming towards you in the ocean? MULTIPLE of them.

A question that often comes up when discussing sharks and their travel preferences is “do sharks travel in groups?”

For the most part, sharks do not travel in groups. Phew! Sharks are primarily solitary animals that prefer to travel alone, but they may get together in groups when feeding or when they sense danger.

Do Sharks Really Travel In Groups?

Whilst it’s true that most shark species are solitary and travel alone, there are some species that prefer to come together to travel and move as a group.

Hammerhead sharks may travel in groups of 10 to 20 or more, this helps them with a sense of familiarity and comfort whilst traveling to new environments.

Lemon sharks tend to travel in groups of 20 or more, and even Great white sharks have been known to travel in pairs.

In fact, Great whites are a surprisingly social species that will sometimes travel in groups of 3 or more, but oftentimes they will compete with one another for food and breeding rights.

Image: Matt Kowalczyk via Flickr

New research is revealing that these apex predators come together in groups solely for the purpose of travel, despite usually being quite territorial.

Each winter in the deep mid-Pacific Ocean, large crows of Great white sharks gather after making the month-long swim from the coasts of California and Mexico.

They do so after feeding on elephant seals and other marine mammals along the coast of California to spend the winter in warmer waters before heading back down to California.

Other shark species such as Bull sharks, Tiger sharks, and Whale sharks live a mostly solitary life and prefer to travel alone.

Why Do Some Sharks Travel Together?

Traveling together offers many benefits for sharks which includes safety in numbers, more opportunity to feed as well as a sense of comfort.

Some sharks are social and can start to establish relationships with one another whilst traveling, this helps them to adjust better to their new environments.

Not all sharks enjoy traveling vast distances through the ocean alone, so they may meet up in groups to keep one another company. Makes sense to me.

Traveling in numbers also offers protection from other predators such as larger sharks or Orca.

Large predators may have a hard time focusing on their target if there are multiple of them, which can lead to predators becoming disorientated and giving up.

Why Do Sharks Travel Solo?

It’s a well-known fact that most sharks, even the species discussed above much prefer to live a solitary existence than in groups.

Traveling alone, whilst lonely for some species is often the best chance of survival as prey that they come across does not need to be shared or fought for.

Whale sharks are the most well-known shark species that prefer solo travel, even over vast distances.

Many shark species do not need protection from predators as they are the predators themselves, so traveling in groups only creates competition.

For example, Great white sharks do not need protection from other animals, so it makes sense that many individuals prefer to roam the oceans alone.

Do Sharks Gather In Groups?

Sharks do tend to gather in groups occasionally in order to have higher chances of mating, but also when feeding or hunting.

Multiple sharks are better than one, right? This is certainly the case when it comes to hunting, as they’re able to take down larger prey.

Great white sharks are top ocean predators that can take down just about anything. When working together, they can easily take down large whales which may provide them with a feast.

Sharks will also congregate at breeding grounds where they’ll seize the opportunity of being with multiple sharks and try to breed.

Whilst there is no conventional name given to a group of sharks, shiver, frenzy, herd, school, shoal, gam, and shoal are all used to describe a gathering of sharks.

Do Sharks Swim In Packs?

At the southern end of Fakarava Atoll, a reserve in French Polynesia, there’s a narrow channel connecting a lagoon to the ocean.

This is the hunting ground for up to 900 reef sharks, including grey reef, whitetip reef, silvertip, and blacktip sharks.

group of sharks
Image: Beth and Anth via Flickr

They hunt in packs but do not share prey with one another. The first shark to make a kill keeps the prey, in an opportunistic relationship between two shark species.

It’s a fascinating relationship that is nightmarish to watch. Large packs of sharks make quick work of their prey, but it’s an effective way for these animals to hunt and clearly works for them.

Final Thoughts

So, do sharks travel in groups? No, for the most part, these animals are solitary and much prefer to travel alone.

That said, it’s true that sometimes, depending on the time of year, even top apex predators such as the Great white will come together to travel in groups and mate.

The travel preferences of sharks largely depend on the species, as some enjoy traveling in groups for the purpose of protection, whilst this only offers competition for others.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this post and now have a clear answer to do sharks travel in groups.

Feel free to stick around to learn more about sharks and the many other types of marine wildlife that we discuss here.

Until next time!