You are swimming peacefully in the water, enjoying the gentle nudging of the waves, the sun rays warming your back and hearing occasional shrieks that came from kids that enjoyed themselves at the shallow ends of the water. Suddenly you heard a piercing scream, followed by a lot of simultaneous yelps. You stopped paddling and floated. Not far away you saw a dorsal fin protruding above the water and moving quickly towards you….

Okay, thats scary

Okay, that's scary

Well. That’s what happened in most of the movies, and the movie “Jaws” did a great job in causing fear among us.  However, I thought today I might just bring a few facts to those that do not know much about sharks.

Unprovoked shark attacks are extremely rare — they just make for engrossing headlines. You’re more likely to die from tangling with a bee, wasp or snake than a shark. You’re also 30 times more likely to die from a lightning strike than a shark attack. Sharks are one of the most feared creatures on Earth, and they are too one of the oldest. Sharks existed more than 300 million years ago, even before the age of dinosaurs. A few of the sharks found nowadays still looked the same as they were 150 million ago.

Sharks have a few characteristics which allow them to exist for such a long time, which we will explore a bit today.

  1. Sharks do not have swim bladders (which help them to remain buoyant by changing the amount of air inside, something like a submarine). Because of this, sharks needs to constantly swim in order to breathe and cannot sleep for very long, for they will sink.The sharks have very keen sense of smell. Some sharks are able to detect the smallest hint of blood in the water. A great white shark, for example, would be able to detect a single drop of blood in an Olympic-size pool. Most sharks can detect blood and animal odors from many miles away. Not only that they can smell from far away, the sharks can even know where the smell is coming from. The twin nasal cavities on their snouts enable them to differ where the blood came from, (something like the use of your ears)
  2. A shark has a remarkable sensitivity to vibrations in the water.  It can feel the movements made by other animals that are hundreds of feet away.  They can hear sounds from thousands of feet away.
  3. Their teeth. Shark’s formidable weapons are their teeth.  As there are plenty of species of sharks, there are different shark teeth as well. Many shark species like the goblin shark and sand tiger have very long, thin teeth. This type of teeth is very suitable for catching small fish. For much bigger predators like the Great White, they have wide serrated teeth which easily cuts through tough flesh and bone

    Shark Teeth

  4. Many shark species rely heavily on their sense of taste. Sharks tend to give a “test bite” before they eat their prey. If the prey is outside their ordinary diet (humans beings for example) the sharks will often refuse to continue eating, turning to other preys instead.
  5. Most sharks give birth to their babies.  Only a few sharks lay eggs.  Most sharks have six to twelve babies at a time, but the Hammerhead and Tiger Shark can have as many as 40 babies at a time.

Shark Facts:

  1. The Whale Shark is the biggest fish in the world.
  2. A Whale Shark weighs about 90,000 pounds.  The second largest shark is the Basking Shark.  It can be as much as 40 feet long.
  3. The dwarf shark is as small as your hand, while the whale shark can be as large as a school bus!
  4. More than 90% of people who are attacked by sharks survive the attack.
  5. The bull shark is the only shark that can live in both fresh and salt water. A bull shark may have been responsible for a shark attack that happened in a creek in New Jersey back in 1916.
  6. Sharks have from 5 to 15 rows of teeth in each jaw. Shark teeth fall easily as they are not firmly attached; therefore they replace falling teeth with the ones in the row behind.
  7. Scientist think that most of the shark attacks on humans are due to mistaken identity.
    Sometimes, as the attacks on surfers, human figure resembles the image of a sea lion or a seal from the bottom of the ocean, making them curious to test the prey.
    Some other times, sharks attack humans because they are provoked by human activity like water agitation or splashing.
  8. Sharks mate only rarely and have a relatively small number of shark pups at a time. Consequently, they can’t replenish their population quickly. Sharks also have fairly long lifespans — on average, sharks live 25 to 30 years.

Shark Threats

Despite their superior physiology and hunting skills, many shark species are now threatened with extinction due to human fishing. The main threats to sharks are overfishing and accidental bycatch. In many parts of the world, sharks are in very high demand, for their meat, skin and cartilage, which is used in several medicines. These shark products sell at very high prices, making them an attractive catch to fishermen.

Types of Sharks:

1. Whale Shark

2. Basking Sharks

3. Great White

4. Blue Shark

5. Bull Shark

6. Hammerhead

Yup, that’s it. Six of the most famous sharks. Among them, the Great White and The Bull Shark the the most terrifying of all the sharks while the two biggest: the whale shark and the basking shark are plankton eaters.

To know more about each types of sharks, click here

Question: What is more dangerous to people – a shark or a wasp/bee?  Answer: wasp/bee  Every year, 100 people die from wasp or bee stings, yet hundreds of millions of people go swimming, and sharks kill only about six people.  Only about 25 sharks have been known to actually attack people.


~ by youngshoots on June 16, 2009.

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