Heavy Metal Under the Sea: Sharks Act Calmer When Listening to AC/DC

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The great white shark—the toothy, aggressive predator known for its “man eater” depiction in Jaws—has long been a source of fascination. But when it comes to musical preferences, great whites are just like the 50 million-plus humans who turned AC/DC’s Back in Black into one of the best selling albums of all time.

They’re fans.

(PHOTOS: A Closer Look at Sharks)

According to Australian news outlet ABC, Matt Waller, a tour operator in Neptune Bay, discovered that great white sharks act more calmly when listening to music by AC/DC, the Aussie heavy-metal band that reached its peak during the 1980s. The two songs favored by the sharks: “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Back in Black.”

After Waller played the songs using underwater speakers, the sharks became “more investigative, more inquisitive and a lot less aggressive.”

“They actually came past in a couple of occasions when we had the speaker in the water and rubbed their face along the speaker which was really bizarre,” he said.

It all started when Waller met up with some divers on Guadeloupe who played music in the water. Certain songs, they told Waller, seem to change the behavior of the sharks. With his company Adventure Bay Charters, Waller began experimenting with underwater speakers attached to diving cages. AC/DC became a smash hit for the sharks down under. The larger question is, why?

“Sharks don’t have ears, they don’t have long hair, and they don’t head bang past the cage doing the air guitar,” Waller told Australian Geographic. So if the great whites aren’t necessarily rocking out to AC/DC’s greatest hits, what’s the appeal? Waller notes that there is a connection between a song and the frequency and vibration in the water that the sharks enjoy.

Waller is not a shark expert, but this discovery is significant. By using music and not bait to attract sharks during tours, his company is helping cage-diving operations become more eco-conscious and environmentally sustainable.

What other albums will have the great white meandering like a rolling stone through Australia’s serene waves? Waller thinks Zeppelin is the next crowd-pleaser, though his kids are banking on The White Stripes.

(MORE: A Brief History of Shark Week)

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