Sharks have been around longer than dinosaurs but are often misunderstood as terrifying monsters. Here’s 18 facts about sharks to help you appreciate them better…
- Did you know – there are approximately 440 different species of shark? And the UK is home to a surprising 40 species of shark! Thankfully, no sharks around the British Isles are dangerous to humans.
- Sharks have no bones – they’re made out of cartilaginous skeletons which is the same tissue that is found in your ears and nose tip.
- Most sharks have excellent eyesight.
- They have special electroreceptor organs near the nose, eyes and mouth called ‘ampullae of Lorenzini’ which can allow the shark to sense electromagnetic feields and temperature shifts in the ocean.
- Sharks skin feels similar to sandpaper because it is made up of tiny teeth like structures called placoid scales (also known as dermal denticles). These scales point towards the tail and helps reduce friction from the surrounding water when the shark swims.
- Sharks can go into a trance called ‘tonic immobility’ when they are flipped upside down.
- Discoveries have shown that based on fossil scales, sharks had first appeared in the ocean around 455 million years ago.
- Blue sharks display a brilliant blue colour on the upper portion of its body and are normally snowy white beneath. This is quite unusual as most sharks are brown, olive or gray.
- The biggest fish in the ocean is the whale shark – they can grow to an incredible 12.2 meters and weigh as much as 4o tons. Each of the whale shark’s spot patterns are as unique as a human fingerprint.
- Most sharks have to keep swimming to pump water over their gills. However some bottom dwelling sharks such as angel sharks and nurse sharks have an extra respiratory organ called ‘sharks spiracle’ which supplies oxygen directly to the sharks eyes and brain – so they are able to breathe while at rest on the seafloor.
- Not all sharks have the same type of teeth, mako sharks have very pointed teeth; while white sharks have triangular, serrated teeth – all leaving a unique mark on their prey. The average shark has 40-45 teeth in up to 7 rows, which they tend to lose regularly and can go through an astonishing 30,000 teeth in their lifetime!
- Large sharks have a bite twice as powerful as that of a lion, and can exert a pressure of up to 40,000 pounds per square inch.
- Different shark species reproduce in different ways – They are oviparous species which are egg-laying and viviparous species which are live-bearing. Sharks that are oviparous lay eggs that develop and hatch outside of the mother’s body with no parental care after the eggs are laid.
- Sharks can only swim forward because their fins are stiff and cannot be controlled by muscles.
- They have an amazing sense of hearing. They can hear prey up to 3000 feet away.
- Sharks have the thickest skin of any animal species – some sharks even have skin that is 6 inches thick!
- Shark attacks are extremely rare and account around 4 fatalities a year worldwide…
- …However, humans kill 100 million sharks a year – this means for every single person killed by a shark, humans kill 25 million sharks.
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