Sharks are fascinating members of a culture that lives in the sea, and kids of all ages love to view the large fish and learn about them. They are intriguing and beautiful creatures, and they continue to amaze us. Scientists studying marine ecosystems have uncovered many captivating facts about sharks.
Shark Teeth – Lots of people collect the predator’s teeth from beaches and sharks certainly have plenty to share. On average, a shark of most varieties has between 40 and 45 teeth, but they lose them frequently. The shark doesn’t have to worry about lost teeth as they grow back quickly, and this big eater can have up to seven rows of replacement teeth. Sharks can use as many as 30,000 teeth during a lifetime.
How Long Do Sharks Live? – It’s hard to know exactly how long sharks live in their natural habitat. Researchers find it difficult to track the migratory and feeding patterns of sharks living in the wild, but have determined they live much longer than those in captivity. New Global Positioning System (GPS) technology has helped researchers pinpoint more precise information. It is estimated that sharks in the wild live between 20 and 30 years, with some varieties living much longer. One long-living shark is the spiny dogfish, which can survive over a hundred years.
Varieties Of Sharks – Almost everyone has a favorite shark, and for many people it’s the huge great white shark made famous in the movie Jaws. There are many other varieties of sharks that range from tiny to gigantic. The largest member of the family is the giant whale shark at 40 feet long (12 meters) and the smallest is the dwarf lantern shark, which reaches a maximum length of 8.3 inches (21.2 cm). Endangered types of sharks include the speartooth, daggernose, white fin, scalloped hammerhead, and the great hammerhead.
No Bones About It – Sharks don’t have a single bone in their bodies. The shark skeletons are constructed of cartilage very much like the end of your nose. Hard bone would not allow sharks the flexibility they need to hunt their for food and to escape from larger predators.
Do Men Taste Better? – Beware boys, 90% of shark attacks occur against men. Just as many females go swimming in the ocean as males, but for some reason very few women are attacked. To be fair to the shark, very few attacks occur against humans.
What Do Sharks Eat? – Normally sharks eat smaller fish and sea life, but once in a while very strange objects have been found in their stomachs. Chairs, shoes, whole boxes of nails, and even a set of drums have been found inside a shark. It’s possible if a shark comes to close to a boat, the passengers throw things to scare it away. Some of the hundreds of things found in different shark’s stomachs may have been found on the ocean floor.
Bull Sharks – This special shark can live either in the salt water of the ocean or the fresh water in a river. It has the ability to adapt to water type by self-regulating substances in the blood. They are the only members of the shark family with this ability.
Always Swimming – Sharks are not able to force water over their gills the way the majority of fish do. In to force water through their mouths and over their gills, they must swim almost continuously. Oxygen is absorbed as the water passes over the gills enabling the sharks to breathe. The rumor that sharks must swim in order to stay alive is not true of all species.
Sharks Can Hear – Sharks have incredible hearing. A shark’s ears are located inside its head and some have the ability to hear prey from as far away as 3,000 feet.
Sharks Can Smell – Sharks have a remarkable ability to smell things. This highly developed sense helps the shark to track its prey up to a mile away by following miniscule traces of protein or blood.
How Many Kinds Of Sharks Are There? – Sharks come in all sizes. Some of these fish are very small and some are very large. There are 350 different kinds of sharks. All sharks are a species of fish. Because some varieties give live birth, they have been mistakenly called mammals.
Shark Superstitions – In the past some island natives believed the sharks were the spirits of their ancestors, and in Fiji and the Solomon islands it is currently illegal to eat the flesh of sharks. Residents of the Hawaiian Islands also had many superstitions about sharks in the past and believed they had the power of gods.
How To Tell A Shark’s Age – A ring forms around the vertebrae of a shark for each year of its life. Scientists count the rings to determine the shark’s age. This activity is best left to a scientist, and no one should ever try to catch a shark no matter how small it is.
How Sharks Have Babies – Not all sharks have babies in the same way. The babies are called pups. Some of them are hatched from egg cases, while others are born live. Shark species vary in the number of pups they have. Some of the varieties give birth to only a single pup and some have dozens! The mother shark does not take care of her babies after they are born. The pups are left to fend for themselves as the mother swims away.
Where Did Sharks Come From? – Scientists cannot give a precise number of years, but many believe ancestors of the shark lived as many as 400 million years ago, which would make the shark 200 million years older than the dinosaur. Most of the sharks that are living today have only been around 100 million years.
Ocean researchers and scientists have learned a lot of new information about sharks since recent advancements in technology have opened new doors to discovery. As we learn the shark’s secrets we understand more about the world and ourselves.