Do Sharks Travel Alone? 'The Shallows' Raises A Terrifying Question

If Jaws taught us anything, it's that one big shark can cause a lot of damage and kill a lot of people. The new movie The Shallows, starring Blake Lively, is attempting to add to that lone shark image. In the film, Lively plays Nancy, a young surfer who must battle a great white shark to make her way safely to shore from a rock in the shallow water only a few hundred yards from the sandy beach. One woman versus one shark — Nancy might be outmatched, but at least she's not outnumbered. Shark movies like The Shallows and Jaws tend to feature one villainous shark as opposed to a whole gang, but do sharks really travel alone? Or are sharks not as solitary as we imagine?

It's a well-accepted fact that sharks do, in fact, tend to prefer an isolated existence. Though not known as particularly aggressive towards one another, sharks tend to live separately from one another, and they will fight each other for food. However, great white sharks in particular are actually believed to be quite social. According to LiveScience.com, great whites travel in groups — called a school or a shoal — frequently and are considered somewhat of a rarity in the shark world.

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There is a lot we don't know about Great White Sharks. Like many other sea-living creatures, great whites are difficult to study due to their natural habitats and aggressive, and sometimes lethal, personalities. Furthermore, tracking technology only recently reached a point that would allow scientists to tag and track great white sharks. "We're really just starting out in the world of white sharks," said a senior scientist at Massachusetts Marine Fisheries in an interview with The National Geographic .

New research suggests that great white sharks congregate either to migrate or to mate. When it comes to food, however, great white sharks can be quite territorial. This might explain why there's only one shark in The Shallows, because it has laid claim on its prey (first a whale, and then Lively). It's still unclear, though, whether or not great whites are really in a community and often travel together. If they do travel together, they might not travel in tight packs, which would also explain why or how one shark haunts Lively in her new film.

Sharks are mysterious creatures, and research on different species of sharks is still being done to determine their sociability. The fact that it is still a topic of debate and research means that sharks are, truly, a wild card if there ever was one.

Images: Columbia Pictures