Are Sharks Smart? How Intelligent Are Sharks?

Many people only see sharks as predators. They don’t consider the intelligence of these magnificent creatures, instead they believe that they are only driven by the need to hunt.

But is this the case? Are sharks smart? And if so, how intelligent are they? Keep on reading to find out.

Are Sharks Smart How Intelligent Are Sharks

Are Sharks Intelligent?

First things first, let’s find out if sharks are intelligent. Generally speaking, yes, sharks are fairly intelligent.

However, in order to understand the intelligence of these creatures, we need to distinguish between intelligence and instinct. 

Instinctual behavior can appear intelligent, but it doesn’t always require intelligence. Instinctual behavior is completed in response to the environment, without any thought or reason.

It isn’t deliberate and it also does not require training, it is an action that your body simply does.

For example, when a person falls over, it is instinct to throw an arm out to stop your face from hitting the ground. Sharks also have instinctual responses. 

However, these instinctual responses are not the same as reflex responses. A reflex response would be to pump water over its gills for oxygen, instinct would be differentiating between threats and prey in a certain area.

Many people would consider the fact that sharks can develop these instincts to be intelligent, but there are other things that will affect if a shark is smart.

Can Sharks Remember Things?

Something that a lot of people consider to be closely linked with intelligence is memory. Memory plays a huge part in learning instinctual responses, but it also plays a huge part in making somebody smart too. 

Just think about it, in humans we consider somebody to be intelligent if they can remember a lot of facts, and have good general knowledge. The same principle applies to sharks, so can sharks remember things? 

Generally speaking, yes, sharks can remember things, and they have pretty good memories.

Across the world, there have been lots of different reports of sharks learning to recognize different boats and divers, seeing them as a friend rather than a threat. 

With other species of shark, there has also been evidence that they can differentiate between the front and back of a human, playing a huge role in sneak attacks.

So based on memory alone, it would be fair to say that sharks are intelligent. 

Do Sharks Have Good IQs?

Something else that hugely impacts what humans consider to be “intelligent” is IQ. So, it is unsurprising that a variety of different checks have been completed on sharks to identify if they have a good IQ. 

Are Sharks Smart How Intelligent Are Sharks (1)

Tests with food have proven that sharks can learn to wait for signals before returning to areas for rewards. In one test, stimuli were used alongside the release of food for sharks.

The sharks in the test learned to wait for the signal before returning to the area for their reward (food). These tests were completed over a period of months, and it was proven that the sharks still remembered the stimuli. 

So, while sharks can not have conventional IQ testing, research does suggest that these creatures have high IQs.

Are Great White Sharks The Smartest?

When you think about sharks, it is likely that the first shark that you think about will be the Great White Shark. So, it is understandable that most people assume that these types of sharks are the most intelligent.

But is this the case?

While there is no definitive proof that great white sharks are the most intelligent, there is proof that these sharks are very smart. Great white sharks are insanely inquisitive and this has been proven through a variety of tests.

So there is no way to say that these sharks are the smartest, but there is also no denying that they are very intelligent. 


In short, yes, sharks are very smart. While there is no definitive way to prove just how intelligent these creatures are, they have very good memories and good instincts. 

Thank you for reading!

Mikayla Adams

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