Studies have shown that sharks can learn to respond to music cues; great white sharks have even demonstrated attraction to heavy metal.
Unlike humans, sharks don't have outer ears; they listen to their environment through a hole on each side of their head that opens into an inner ear, said Catarina Vila Pouca, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Zoology at Stockholm University in Sweden. Sharks also have an extrasensory system that mammals lack, known as the lateral line. This system, found in most bony fish, consists of a canal that runs through the shark's body and is connected to pores in the skin.
In 2018 research published in the journal Animal Cognition, Vila Pouca reported that Port Jackson sharks could recognize the sound of a jazz song. Five of the eight sharks the researchers tested learned to respond to the music by swimming to a corner of their tank to receive a food reward, Vila Pouca said.
The relentless, driving beat of rock music especially the dense, bass-thrumming beats of hard rock and heavy metal can even attract wild sharks in the open ocean, as Matt Waller, shark tour operator and owner of Adventure Bay Charters in Australia, discovered in 2011.
Waller had heard from a shark tour colleague who experimented with underwater speakers that the sharks behaved differently in the presence of music particularly rock music, Waller decided to test his own underwater sound system, and a shark appeared near the boat within the first 10 minutes.
"When AC/DC's 'Back in Black' was on, he kept rubbing his face on the speaker and we knew we were onto something," Waller said. Over time, Waller tried many types of music, with varying degrees of success in attracting sharks. "What worked one week didn't always work the next," he said. And some sharks responded differently than others to certain tracks. One shark, a female, would swim up and leap from the water whenever the crew played the Talking Heads song "Sax and Violins," Waller recalled.