Sharks use highly sensitive electroreceptors to detect the electric fields emitted by potential prey. However, it is not known whether prey animals are able to modulate their own bioelectrical signals to reduce predation risk. Here, we show that some shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum) embryos can detect predator-mimicking electric fields and respond by ceasing their respiratory gill movements. Despite being confined to the small space within the egg case, where they are vulnerable to predators, embryonic sharks are able to recognise dangerous stimuli and react with an innate avoidance response. Knowledge of such behaviours, may inform the development of effective shark repellents.