, Volume 156, Issue 2, pp 229-236

Warm brain and eye temperatures in sharks

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  1. Temperatures in the brain and eyes of mako and porbeagle sharks (Lamnidae) are 5°C warmer than the water while the brain and eye temperatures in six other species of pelagic sharks are within 0.1°C of water temperature.

  2. An orbital rete mirabile is present in the porbeagle and mako sharks but absent in the cranial vasculature of eleven other species of pelagic sharks.

  3. The orbital rete in the head of the porbeagle and mako sharks acts as a heat exchanger which conserves metabolic heat and raises the local tissue temperatures.

  4. This brain and eye warming system should buffer the central nervous system from the effects of rapid temperature change. Warming of the retina may improve the visual sensitivity of these active predators.