Biologists Develop Camera That Simulates Shark Vision

By Victor Thomson , Apr 27, 2016 06:21 AM EDT

Researchers built a "shark-eye" camera that simulates how fluorescent sharks see each other.

David Gruber, a biologist at the City University of New York's Baruch College, is interested to find the reason why some species are glowing. He and his colleagues designed and built a camera that simulates shark vision.

Among the species that are glowing are catsharks that produce bright green biofluorescence. Their glowing is visible only to other catsharks.

The scientists previously assumed that this species is likely to use the contrast of the glowing patterns to communicate with one another, according to the website Lead author of the new study, Mr Gruber, told National Geographic that his team of researchers confirmed that sharks might use biofluorescence to communicate.

A special pigment in catsharks' skin absorbs blue light and discharges it as green light in a process called biofluorescence. To capture the shark's fluorescent light, scientists have created the "shark-eye" camera by adding filters in front of its lens.

The "shark-eye" camera helps researchers to understand how biofluorescence works. The camera simulates the way catsharks see underwater.

With the help of the special camera, researchers have understood that fluorescence makes catsharks visible only to members of their own species. According to the website, co-author John Sparks, a curator in American Museum of Natural History, explained that the new findings suggest that sharks may use their biofluerescence to communicate with each other.

Up to date, scientists have discovered many species in the oceans that can glow. But according to Mr. Spark, this is one of the first studies on biofluorescence to suggest a connection between fluorescence emission and visual capability.

In order to explore how sharks see, scientists used a technique called microspectrophotometry to examine the eyes of shellsharks and chain catsharks. Researchers found that sharks can see well in low-light environments thanks to the long rod pigments. 

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