See how blacktip sharks evade hungry hammerheads in these tense drone videos

Drones are giving scientists views of previously undocumented predator-prey behavior.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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Hammerhead sharks can grow up to 18 feet (5.5 meters) in length, making them much bigger than blacktip sharks.

Stephen Kajiura/Florida Atlantic University

For blacktip sharks off the coast of Florida, Jaws is real. Drone footage is showing researchers how blacktips are able to avoid becoming dinner for larger hammerhead sharks. They don't need a bigger boat, they just need shallower waters.

A study led by scientists at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) revealed that adult blacktip sharks flee into shallow water to evade hammerheads. The evidence for this behavior came from some intense aerial drone footage showing herds of blacktips madly swimming away from hammerheads. 

FAU said the videos are the first evidence of this evasive behavior from adult blacktips. The researchers published their findings in the Journal of Fish Biology last month.  

The videos were captured close to the shore of Palm Beach County and they're as heart-pounding as any scene from an action movie. "The chasing events showed the hammerhead struggling as it experienced difficulty following the blacktips into the shallow waters," said FAU biologist Stephen Kajiura, co-author of the study.

For the blacktip sharks, survival is a matter of size. The hammerheads ended up with their fins exposed above the water, hampering their ability to swim effectively. This provides the smaller blacktip sharks with a perfect getaway scheme.

Researchers hope more drone footage will continue to reveal the secrets of shark behavior. The residents of Amity Island might want to study these videos for some tips.  

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