Pull up a chair for some serious eye candy courtesy of aerial camera drones. You're going to want to go HD and full screen for this shark fest!


 

Marine biologist and photographer Dr Simon Pierce has encountered a baitball or two in his line of work – in fact, he's watched the largest sharks on earth have their fill of one. But a recent trip to the Philippines brought an encounter with a group of lesser-known silky sharks. 

"This has to be my favourite drone video from this year so far," he wrote on Facebook. "There was a lot of bird activity in the distance, so I sent the drone out and got a few minutes of footage before we jumped in the boat to investigate!"

The footage was captured in Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, home to some 600 species of fish (including 13 shark species!). "I love how, even though there are loads of them, the sharks are so controlled as they move through the baitfish," says Pierce. 

Silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis) get their name from the metallic, "smooth" appearance of their skin. Shark skin is covered in tooth-like plates known as dermal denticles, and in silky sharks, these are both tightly packed and full of numerous grooves – which also means the sharks aren't as silky as they look. In fact, several species of jackfish have been known to use these animals as scratching posts for removing pesky parasites. 

Known to cruise both solo and in groups, these active predators feed mostly on fish like mackerel, tuna and mullet, as well as octopus and squid – but a baitfish buffet like this is always welcome. 

"The sharks slash open-mouthed through the pulsing, tightly wheeling mass of silvery fishes, catching them at their jaw corners and swallowing them whole," notes former ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research director R. Aidan Martin

While it might look like a collective effort, he adds, silkies mostly go at a baitball independently, though they do take advantage of any bursts of escapees from each other's attacks. 

Up for a bonus round? Then feast your eyes on this mesmerising drone footage of feeding basking sharks captured by wildlife tour company Sea Wild Scotland.

These colossal animals are filter feeders, so you won't catch them tearing into a baitball. Instead, the sharks swim with their massive jaws ajar, sucking up tiny zooplankton, small fish and invertebrates as they go.

The sharks typically spend their summers in Scottish and northern waters before heading south for the winter. "It's unusual that we would see one in shallow waters like that," says James Fairbairns, skipper and owner of Sea Wild. "It's the first time we've seen it in 20 odd years."

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Top header image: Alex Chernikh/Wikimedia Commons