Sharks are the ultimate predators of the water kingdom and are the true killing machines of the ocean. They are also a very important cog in the ecological wheel. Here are 10 interesting facts for you to check out.
1. Residing on Earth for over 370 million years and a variety of 400 sub-species, there are a lot of things we don’t know about these menacing yet majestic creatures. They are not actually considered as living fossils.
2. Sharks are present in all seas across the globe. They’re known to traverse the length of the Atlantic ocean in search of food or mating partner. Sharks are typically found ranging from shallow waters near reefs to up to 3,000 metres deep in the oceans.
3. Most Sharks are cold-blooded, though some species like the Mako and Great White sharks can adjust their body heat to match outside temperature. Sharks can be as small as the 17cm Dwarf Lanternshark, to up to a 12-metre long Whale Shark, which is the largest non-mammalian fish in the world.
4. They’re not just big, they also have great senses. A shark’s extremely sensitive nose can smell a drop of blood in 50 litres of water. And with species like the ‘Mako Shark’ capable of attaining speeds of up to 50 km per hour, their prey have a lot to worry about.
5. Grey reef sharks as the name suggests, are mostly found in reefs and are very agile swimmers. One of the reason being, they need to surface periodically for respiration.
6. Sharks do swim in shallow waters, but they would be crushed on land. Reason? Sharks are cartilaginous, meaning their skeleton is made of buoyant and lighter cartilage instead of bones, which can collapse under its weight.
7. Sharks are formidable predators with the bite-force of a Great white shark as high as up to 700psi. Such force enables them to slice through seals like a knife through butter. Their serrated (saw-like) and multiple rows of teeth ensures that once a prey is caught, it’s ripped to pieces in a matter of seconds.
8. Tiger Sharks stand out as the most excellent predator among shark species. Despite that, they’re considered sacred by natives of Hawaii. They’re known to eat fish, birds, seals, sea snakes and even sea turtles. Yes! They can break open a turtle shell by brute force.
9. A shark can easily lose a tooth during a hunt, as their teeth are not attached to their jaw bone, they are actually held in place by cartilage. However, they have multiple rows of teeth and can regrow a lost tooth in about 8 days.
10. They’re quite choosy about food and are known to display a choice for specific colour and shape for their food. Some species such as Angel shark can change their own body colour to camouflage.
Bonus Facts About Sharks
Some sharks like the Manta ray fish are filter feeders (also known as ram feeders). They swim with their mouths open, gobbling up everything coming their way.
Fur seal fish is a common favourite amongst sharks. In fact, every fur-seal fish encounters a shark at least once in its lifetime. Bite marks and scars are often found on fur-seal fish caught in the nets
Sharks mostly attack their prey from below and use their excellent sense of smell to locate their prey. One of the myths is that sharks are short-sighted. In fact, they have a very adapted eye for the marine environment. Sharks can contract and dilate their pupils based on ambient light.
If those senses are not enough, species like the Hammerhead sharks have extremely sensitive electromagnetic receptors on their head, which helps them catch the electric currents emitted by all living organisms.
Sharks are scavengers too. They help keep the ocean clean by devouring anything dead and remotely edible. License plates, coal, and boat parts have been found in the stomachs of dead Tiger sharks.
Sharks have an Achilles’ heel, though! They become immobile due to shock if they’re turned upside down. This is a reflex action known as ‘Tonic Immobility’. This behaviour is displayed by many other animals too.
The Pacific Sleeper Shark is the largest deep-sea shark at an average 7m length with a huge stomach with a capacity of 300 litres. When you’re 2000m below sea-level, where few lifeforms can survive, you need that massive stomach to store food when available!
Annually around 50-70 million sharks are finned across the globe. Finning is a process where a shark is caught live and its fins removed using hot sharp blades. The remaining sharks are put back into the ocean for an eventual death by suffocation. Sharks need to keep water flowing over their gills for breathing, so with their fins cut off, they can’t swim, leading to death by other predators.