We love sharks as divers! They are powerful yet serene and they play an important role in our ecosystem. Sadly, the media has fueled fear of these magnificent animals. The truth is, they are beautiful and misunderstood creatures that we need to stop fearing and fishing and start celebrating and saving!
So what’s so great about sharks? Let me tell you these 10 fantastic facts about sharks...
Shark fact #1: EXISTENCE
Sharks have existed for about 450 million years!… Well before humans, or even the dinosaurs. They are one of only a few that survived four of the five mass extinctions. Since they existed long before us, we are not on their menu. It would be like giving tofu to someone who ordered a steak! It would be a travesty if they had survived all this time and we are the ones who brought about their extinction.
Shark fact #2 LARGEST SHARK
The largest shark ever to have lived is the Megalodon, which was thought to be up to 18 meters long! Fossilized Megalodon teeth are commonly found in the shores around Venice Beach in the USA. It became extinct about three million years ago and it is a close relative of the Great White Shark.
Shark fact #3 VARIETY OF SPECIES
There are known to be about 500 species of shark. Sharks inhabit all oceans of the world. They come all shapes, sizes and colours; the smallest of which, the dwarf lantern shark is only 15cm long. There are even sharks that evolved to be able to walk on land, like the epaulette shark, which is found in the Western Pacific.
Shark fact #4 OLDEST
The Greenland Shark can live for 400 years! They are, however, rarely seen by humans as they tend to live in very deep and cold waters.
Shark fact #5 TEETH
Sharks have many rows of teeth, which are constantly being shed and replaced like a conveyor belt. A single shark can produce 6,000 teeth a year and 30,000 teeth in a lifetime! Different species have different shaped teeth depending on their diet and often the teeth on the upper jaw are different shape to those on the lower jaw.
Shark fact #6 EXTRA SENSE
Sharks use an electro-sensory system to locate prey using the electric fields they produce. They have receptors on their snout called Ampullae of Lorenzini.
Shark fact #6 BUOYANCY
Most bony fish have a swim bladder, which is a gas-filled organ used to control their buoyancy in the water. Sharks, however, do not have this organ. Instead, their liver contains large amounts of oil, which is less dense than seawater. Their skeleton is made not of bone but cartilage, which is lighter than bone. As sharks are generally negatively buoyant, these two factors work to keep sharks buoyant in the water.
Shark fact #8 APEX PREDATORS
Sharks are at the top of the food chain and play a vital role in the oceans. Without them, the animals on the below tier would overproduce causing a knock-on effect to all levels below. Sharks ensure the food pyramid stays stable. Sharks mainly eat only dying and diseased fish, which keeps the population of the oceans healthy.
Shark fact #9 NEWLY EVOLVED SHARKS
The most recently evolved shark is the Hammerhead shark. These sharks have 360-degree vision and amazing agility in the water. The most interesting fact about these sharks is that they can reproduce asexually. Meaning, if the hammerhead shark doesn’t find a mate, it can clone itself to carry on the species!
Shark fact #10 KILLERS?
Humans kill 100 million sharks every year. Sharks only kill about 10 humans every year. Much like us, if we see something new, the first thing we want to do is touch and feel it to assess what it is. Sharks do this with their teeth. Very rarely does a shark bite to kill. They do a test bite, it is the action of us removing our arm from their mouth which causes trauma, not the bite itself. But it would take someone as cool as a cucumber to wait for the shark to let go!
There are many interesting statistics out there....It is apparently 15 times more likely for a person to be killed by a vending machine than by a shark! The education and outreach director for Shark Angels Cheryl McCarron is quoted as saying "You are more likely to be bitten by a New Yorker than by a shark"!
Sharks are friends, not fins!