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The Shark Oil Tradition in Bermuda

High-tech satellite imagery, radar, anemometers, barometers, thermometers and rain gauges – Bermuda uses them all when it comes to keeping one step ahead of potential weather conditions. But the island has another secret weapon up its sleeve: shark oil.

Centuries of seafaring history have shaped Bermuda in many ways, but the shark oil tradition is one of the most unusual.

A Homespun Barometer

Shark oil has long been part of sailors’ arsenal when it comes to predicting the weather – especially hurricanes. While there's no scientific basis for the phenomenon, many Bermudians on the island trust it implicitly. This homespun barometer has mysteriously yielded accurate results time and time again.

It's a mystery that has yielded accurate results time and time again.

Decoding Shark Oil

Old-time Bermudians keep a sealed bottle of shark oil from a puppy shark strung upside-down outside. If the oil stays clear, you’re in the clear as well – normal conditions are ahead. When stormy weather is on its way, the oil gets cloudy. If the oil starts turning a milky white colour, look out – there may be hurricane-like weather approaching.

Another way old-timers can tell when a hurricane is looming? They watch to see if the island’s silk spiders are spinning their webs closer to the ground.

Read more about the shark oil tradition or see Bermuda weather.