With Discovery Channel’s Shark Week just around the corner, this year celebrating 25 years, we thought we’d pull out all of our cool pictures of sharks to get in the mood.
Sharks are scary. They are ugly. But they are so fascinating. A carnivore made only of cartilage, a streamlined body gives the shark amazing hydrodynamics, allowing it to rule the ocean as it has for over 400 million years. Relatively intelligent, sharks are able to differentiate between objects, animals, and people. Unfortunately, shark attacks do happen, most often to swimmers in shallow water. Watch Discovery Channel’s Top 10 Shark Attacks. It’s so crazy.
Sharks can lose around 30,000 teeth in their lifetime. New ones grow into the back, then move forward over time (like a conveyor belt). Even though they have so many teeth, sharks typically don’t chew their food. Instead, they swallow it whole. Sharks use their sense of smell like mammals use their sense of hearing. A shark can follow the direction of an object based on the timing of when the scent hit each nostril. As most people know, that sense of smell comes into play with blood. (Just watch Finding Nemo.)
With over 400 shark species, I decided to choose a few of my favorite.
First, there’s the classic great white shark.
Found in mostly coastal areas, this shark is known for its size– the largest recorded one having been 20 feet long and over 5,000 pounds! The great white shark is also the species used in Jaws. (duh-duh. duh-duh. you can finish the rest) While they lead in the number of attacks against humans, great white sharks don’t actually like to eat humans. Most of the attacks are a “test-bite,” which means they were simply trying to identify what the object is. Great white sharks will also do this to buoys, surfboards, etc. It is slightly comforting to know they’ll swim away after one bite.
Next on the list is the Mako Shark:
The Mako Shark is known for its ability to jump in the air. It can get as high as 24 feet. I think that’s how high McKayla Maroney can jump too. About 15 feet long, what we know about this genus mostly comes from fossils, as most of the species are extinct.
The Tiger Shark:
I like tigers, and I like sharks, so of course this one made it on. They are named tiger sharks because of the dark stripes found mostly on young sharks, mature ones having faded stripes. They come up second on the list of human attacks, but the bad news is they don’t have good taste buds, so they’re more likely to finish the job unlike great whites who will swim away after one bite.
Now comes the Leopard Shark:
The most common shark, this one is known for being docile toward humans. They like to stay in shallow water where they can patrol the kelp forest. It gets its name from the dark ovals on the shark’s back. The older a shark is, the lighter the center of the ovals will be. Also interesting to note is that when you type “leopard sharks” into google, one of the first things to pop up is “leopard sharks for sale.” There’s one that’s only 40 inches if you’re interested … I just feel like there’s something wrong with being able to buy a shark over the internet.
Anyways, onto the Hammerhead Shark:
These guys are just ugly. I don’t care if sharks are Michael Phelps’ favorite animal, I bet even he wouldn’t call them cute. It seems like we could just call them ugly and move on, but I need to point out the diver in the background of that picture. Does he realize there’s a shark close by? The hammerhead’s wide set eyes give them a supreme visual range, and having their senses spread out across that mallet thing allows them to more thoroughly scan the bottom of the ocean floor for food. Part of that scanning comes in their ability to detect the electrical fields created by preys, their favorite being the stingray. Fairly small, the hammerhead is considered harmless to humans, although there have been a few recorded attacks. (Maybe that diver does know what he’s doing.)
And last comes my favorite one, the Great Whale Shark:
Being the largest animal in the ocean, this guy could easily rule the waters. However, as Finding Nemo would educate you, their preferred diet is that of plankton. They scoop plankton and small fish up while being close to the surface of the water, which is why whales are so commonly spotted. The essence of a BFG (big friendly giant), these whales are essentially harmless and will even allow swimmers to hitch a ride. Take Dory and Marlin for example. Sadly, these animals are considered endangered.
Even though some are considered harmless, I still think if you ever spot a shark you should get out of there before attempting to identify its species. Look at the rest of these cool pictures and more that I have compiled back at Newscom.
Isn’t this thing gross?
And this one is almost pretty.
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This entry was posted on Friday, August 10th, 2012 at 1:32 pm and is filed under Pictures of the Week. You can follow any comments to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a comment, or trackback from your own site.