10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Sharks
The cold-blooded apex predator of the seas, striking fear and awe to anyone who sees a glimpse of even their sharp distinguishable fins rising above the water and diving back down, swimming effortlessly with speeds that can catch any unlucky prey that they see.
The shark is a favorite animal of pop culture, having iconic movies such as Jaws and spawning so many TV shows even having its shark week, an annual week dedicated to showing shark-related shows. If you haven't been tuning in on shows about sharks, here is a list of 10 facts about sharks that you probably didn’t know.
The biggest fish in the sea
Sharks might not seem like fishes, but they are still categorized as fishes since they have the same body structure and gills to breathe underwater. The biggest living shark species is the Whale shark weighing an estimated 15 tons and growing to about 40 feet long.
Despite being a shark, it's, as the name suggests, a gentle giant since it feeds just like a whale feeding on krill, plankton, fish eggs, and other small sea life.
The title for the largest fish that ever lived on earth was the now extinct Megalodon shark. Living around 20 million years ago, this prehistoric predator is believed to reach 80 feet and weigh up to 70 tons.
This is one of the interesting facts about sharks you probably didn’t know about. They are carnivorous giants who ate anything that would fit into its 10-foot wide mouth. This is where it gets its name, the megalodon meaning “big tooth.”
So many teeth
These predatory sharks rely on their impressive set of teeth to chow down on their prey, easily ripping off the flesh and bone of their delicious meal. What makes shark teeth so special is that they shed their teeth and easily replace them.
Some species can shed about 30,000 teeth in their lifetime. However, even with the sheer number of teeth, some sharks like the great white shark hold up to 300 teeth at any point. They can have so many teeth at the same time that they can have seven rows of teeth.
Another shark fact is about being a predator. It also means speed is key to hunting prey, and sharks are mostly the fastest-moving creatures in the ocean thanks to their body shape and weight. The fastest shark is the shortfin Mako shark. They can reach speeds of 45miles per hour while humans average only 2 miles per hour; you definitely don’t want to be hunted by this monster.
Humans are friends, not food
Contrary to popular belief, most sharks aren't dangerous to humans. In 2020 there were only 57 total shark attacks worldwide, and only ten have died. Most of these bites happen because sharks confuse surfers with seals which are a part of their diet.
So, it is only a myth that sharks go crazy when they smell human blood on the water and attack humans, but approaching sharks is still not something we recommend since they can easily be provoked by people in the wild and cause them to attack.
Smelling blood on the water
The famous myth of sharks going crazy and attacking humans from smelling a drop of blood comes from the fact that sharks can smell blood from a mile away. They can smell at one part per 25million. Sharks have a sensitive sense of smell, just like other fishes, and can help them in hunting prey.
Hearing a million miles away
A shark can also hear a fish in the water from 800 feet away, and sharks have the best of everything to adapt and become effective predators. You might be asking if sharks don’t seem to have ears, then you are correct.
They only have inner ears, they have two tiny holes in each side of their head, and that alone is responsible for their great hearing and even helps with their balance.
We have probably seen footage of great white sharks jumping above water to catch their prey, which is called shark breaching. Sharks do this most often to hunt seals which are also pretty fast swimmers, by the way.
Still, they have developed this innate technique over time by slowly closing in underneath the seals and quickly accelerate by using their muscular tail and launch themselves headfirst, allowing them to bite the seal and catch it by surprise.
Despite its raw power and ability to survive and stay at the top of the food chain, sharks have one great enemy, and that is humans. As a result, sharks have been hunted endlessly. Sharks are hunted for various resources, but the most prominent is the hunt for shark fin, which is a delicacy and some form of medicine for some countries.
Shark fin hunting is done by simply removing sharks' fins and releasing them since most of the shark is not needed, which renders the shark helpless and unable to swim and just leaves them to die in the bottom of the ocean. This inhumane practice counts up to killing 100 million sharks per year and is leading them into extinction.
Save the sharks
The leading organization for the conservation of most wildlife worldwide is called the world wildlife fund (WWF), which is largely advocating and helping efforts to keep sharks in the wild and help them from overfishing.
One in four species of sharks is endangered. It is a priority of these Non-Governmental Organizations to stop the extinction of these animals by pressuring governments worldwide and even combating illegal fishing by trying to catch these perpetrators.
Sharks have lived for millions of years to have been able to adapt and become the perfect hunting machines of the seas. We love these animals so much we even make movies and show all about them. We owe it to sharks to help them avoid extinction since we are the biggest reason for their decline.
Being at the top of the food chain means nothing if they go extinct just because of us. So, we need to be informed and help out any way we can in trying to save this majestic beast from being wiped out of the face of the earth. I hope these facts about sharks have helped you in understanding what they are about.
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