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What Actually Happens When You Hypnotize a Shark? [VIDEO]

It's not really hypnosis — but it sure does look like it.

It turns out that one of nature's most vicious underwater predators is pretty easily tamed with some mind games.

hypnotize shark


Back on land, people turn to hypnosis for all kinds of reasons.

hypnotize shark Giphy

Sometimes, it can just be a fun party trick. In other cases, people swear it's been the one tool that finally helped them conquer battles like quitting smoking or losing weight.

Sharks obviously don't need to cut back on the cigs, but trainers have found that being able to hypnotize underwater animals, like sharks and lobsters, helps them to tag the animals while minimizing discomfort and reducing the risk of injury.

With those tags, researchers can then track the animals, which helps conservation experts learn more about their lives and the best ways to protect them.

hypnotize shark Gif via YouTube

It's not quite a state of true hypnosis that sharks enter; but to the naked eye, it sure seems like it. The state is actually called tonic immobility, and, like its name implies, it renders the animal immobile.

It happens when sharks are flipped on their backs, and can also happen if sharks are scratched beneath their noses.

One video shows a diver inducing tonic immobility in a shark by gently scratching its nose.

hypnotize shark Gif via YouTube video

Another video, just released this month, shows a shark going still and then rolling over after a diver uses the same trick.

You can tell the animal is clearly alive and OK, but it is completely unable to move, even as other sharks swirl around the pair.

While researchers do this to tag the animals or perform simple surgeries, whales have been known to flip sharks on their back, immobilizing them. Eventually, the tonic immobility induced by the whale can then lead to suffocation, making it a pretty effortless kill.

It's a pretty cool way to calm a shark. But if you come across one in the wild, it's probably not the best idea to start scratching its nose. In that scenario, just start swimming.

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