10 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Sharks

facts about sharks

 

Shark Week isn’t the only time that we should be celebrating sharks. Sharks are truly incredible creatures that are not given the credit that they deserve. The movie Jaws traumatized many people from going into the ocean in fear of being eaten alive by an angry, massive Great White with a vendetta for humanity. However, these apex predators are not as bloodthirsty for human bodies as Hollywood has portrayed them to be. Yes, they can be dangerous. They are also necessary for the balance of all life in our oceans. In this article, we will explore 10 facts about sharks that you probably didn’t know.

1.Sharks have existed for a very, very long time.

Based on fossil evidence that has been found in the United States and Australia, scientists have estimated that sharks have been around for around 455 million years, predating the dinosaurs by 200 millions years.


2. You can put a shark into a trance.

Although this is not something to try at home without a professional. A big reason why scientists flip over sharks onto their back when working on them in the water is because they go into a trancelike state called tonic immobility. 


3. Sharks don’t have bones.

Sharks are in a special category of fish called elasmobranchs, which is translated as “fish made of cartilaginous tissue”. It’s the same stuff that your nose tip and ears are made of. This helps sharks to be more buoyant, because their cartilaginous skeletons are much lighter than bone. As sharks age, they deposit calcium salts into their skeleton to strengthen it. This is why the dried jaw of sharks looks and feels solid like bone, and also why they can fossilize. 


4. Most sharks have great eyesight.

The back of sharks eyeballs have a reflective layer called tapetum, which helps sharks to see very well with little light. Sharks can also see in color.


5. Sharks mature slowly.

Sharks are known to reach reproductive age anywhere from 12 to 15 years.


6. Whale sharks are the world’s biggest fish.

Whale sharks can grow up to 40 feet long, though on average a fully grown one will reach 18-33 feet. That’s about the size of a school bus. 


7. Not all sharks have to keep swimming to survive.

A common fact many people know about sharks is that they have to constantly keep swimming in order to pump water over their gills to survive. However, that isn’t true for all sharks. Some shark species, such as nurse or bullhead sharks, can survive at rest and even buried under sand. This is due to an extra respiratory organ called a spiracle located just behind their eyes which supplies oxygen directly to their eyes and brain. 


8. Great Whites can sense blood in water up to 3 miles away.

Great white sharks can detect one tiny drop of blood in 25 gallons of water. They can even sense trace amounts of blood in water up to 3 miles away.


9. You are more likely to die from lightning than from a shark attack.

Your chances of getting attacked and killed by a shark are 1 in 3,748,067. This means that in your lifetime, you are more likely to get killed by lightning or a firework than by a shark. Yet, humans kill over 100 million sharks every year. 


10. Sharks are killed for their fins.

Shark fin soup is seen as a status symbol and is commonly sold in black markets around the world. Unfortunately, this trend has led to illegal fishing and overfishing, which depletes our oceans of life and reduces shark populations to dangerously low numbers. Sharks maintain the balance of life in the world’s oceanic ecosystems. Without them, our oceans would be a much different place. Luckily, there are conservationists who have dedicated their lives to protecting these beautiful animals. To learn more about these kinds of organizations, click here.