September 04, 2018

Sharks are always ending up on the new, unfortunately, it’s always for the wrong reasons. What most people don’t know is that there are several other points of interests that are worth considering in this majestic fish. So in honor of shark week, let’s look at some fun facts about this apex predator of the deep sea.


There are more than 500 shark species and they vary in shape, size, environment and according to their preferred diet. Although some sharks are small, there are others such as the whale shark that can grow as much as 40 feet long.

Whale Shark. Photo by Paul Hilton, Greenpeace.


Sharks live in all parts of the ocean and some sharks can even survive in fresh water. The most interesting shark (in terms of appearance) is the goblin shark or Mitsukurina Owstoni. It is called the goblin shark because of its facial features and is one of the oldest living species among lamniform sharks. The goblin shark dates as far back as 125 million years ago.

Goblin Shark.


The first sharks are believed to have evolved over 400 million years ago. However, it may be even older as sharks have a flexible cartilage skeleton and unlike other fish, it is rarely preserved the way a typical fishbone is preserved.


Sharks have several rows of teeth that they replace regularly with new ones. They lose to old ones to allow the new ones to grow in its place.


Sharks eat crustaceans, fish, plankton, mollusks, marine mammals and sometimes, other sharks. With their strong sense of smell, they are able to detect blood several miles away.


While most sharks are cold-blooded, some, such as the great white shark are warm-blooded. This allows them to grow and swim faster. The downside is that warm-blooded sharks need to eat at least 10 times more than their cold-blooded cousins.

Great White Shark. Photo by Rodrigo Friscione/Getty Images.


Some etymologists believe that the word shark is derived from earlier Dutch and German words that mean a shifty character and others suggest that it comes from Xoc (pronounced “shoke”), meaning “great fish” in the Mayan language.


The largest known shark species was the megalodon which grew larger than 50 feet. The good news is that you have nothing to fear from this behemoth as it went excited about 2.6 million years ago.


One of the myths surrounding sharks is that they can’t develop cancer. Scientists (and shark enthusiast) have known that sharks can get cancer since 1908 at least.


Even though humans perceive sharks as a threat, the truth is that we (humans) pose a bigger threat to them. The fishing industry kills at least 100 million sharks yearly for their dorsal fins alone. This figure far outnumbers the few shark attacks reported annually. So even sharks can appear aggressive, remember that you’re swimming in their home whenever you take a swim in the ocean. You may want to show some caution and appreciation for this ancient and diverse species that is an integral part of a magnificent and vast ecosystem.



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