Australian great white sharks relaxed in the presence of speakers playing AC/DC during a recent experiment. Photo by Flickr user 126 Club.
Scientists haven’t done very many studies involving humans and heavy metal, but something compelled a team of researchers down under to play a few heavy metal tunes for some great white sharks. Specifically, the tunes included “Back in Black” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC.
Now, it’s been a longstanding misconception that heavy metal makes its listeners unruly, wild, aggressive, and ready for risk. There’s even this idea that if you play heavy metal for plants, they’ll die. (Mythbusters disproved this; in fact, plants exposed to extreme death metal grow better than plants exposed to other kinds of music.)
So what did the sharks do when they heard some of the biggest hits to come out of Australia?
After [tour operator Matt] 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.
Now, the sharks couldn’t actually hear the songs, but they could feel the vibrations — vibrations that would feel differently, and probably move at a faster tempo, than other types of music. Alas, the study doesn’t seem to show that the sharks were given the chance to hear, say, Celine Dion or Beethoven, so we don’t know how they’d respond. But it’s interesting nonetheless that one of nature’s most feared animals apparently has a soft spot for electric guitars.
In his book, Metalheads, Jeffrey Jensen Arnett found that metal had similar effects on human listeners, who reported that the music kept them calm, helped them unwind, and prevented them from seeking trouble. What they wanted was intensity — intense music that matched the intensity of their own temperaments.
Many lives flourish in the presence of this music. If they’re not flourishing, it’s because of something else in their lives — and in spite of heavy metal.
In the spirit of relaxation and good health, here’s a tune that plants, humans, and sharks can appreciate, Accept’s “Fast as a Shark”: