The Blue Shark
Prionace Glauca, more commonly referred to as the Blue shark, is one of the most beautiful, of all the shark species. They are deep blue on their top side, and white on their underside. Besides their colors, their long, torpedo shaped bodies, make them easily distinguishable from other species. Long and slender pectoral fins are also contributing factors that make this species easy to identify. When watching blue sharks swim, one will notice the elegance used while swimming. This species is not aggressive towards humans, yet it is one of the most fished. Humans use different parts of the blue shark, such as fins, teeth, and skin, however, 10 to 20 million of these sharks are killed yearly due to human capture.
Commercial fisheries, as well as game fisheries, have expressed concerns over this growing number, and all members of society should agree. With growing numbers like these, how can this species not be in danger? Help support conservation efforts by spreading the word, and let society know that this is unacceptable. Many individuals ask themselves, “What can I do?”, or “How can I help if I don’t have any money?”. The truth is that by simply talking about sharks, researching interesting shark information, and sharing good experiences about sharks on social media is more than enough. Knowledge is the key to everything, and by simply talking about sharks, information is learned.
That Is A Lot Of Pups
Blue sharks are Viviparous, which basically means that the female gives birth to live pups, after the embryos have developed inside of their mother’s body. The breeding cycle is violent, and often results in bites being taken out of the females body. Therefore, the females grow much thicker skin than males. This thicker skin can be up to three times thicker, but one must believe that the bites are still excruciatingly painful. These bites are commonly referred to as “love bites”, and are all part of an acceptable ritual for blue sharks when mating.
After approximately 9 to 12 months, female blue sharks give birth to 20-100 pups at one time. That number is almost unbelievable. The average size litter for a pig is approximately 8-12 piglets, and the average size litter of a dog is 6-8 puppies. Of course these are mammals, and there are huge differences, these were just used as a reference point. Any human female that has ever given birth can appreciate the point that is being made. That is a lot of pups.
Predators Of The Predators
Sharks, in general, do not have many enemies. The most significant threat to blue sharks is humans. As stated above, approximately 10-20 million of theses sharks are killed per year by humans. As in many instances, blue sharks have to be on the look out for larger predators, such as great white sharks. Smaller blue sharks can become prey of larger sharks in some cases.
One such instance happened in 1969, when three blue sharks were kept in round tanks for three months. Upon the third month, bull sharks were introduced into the tanks, resulting in the blue sharks becoming the prey. Some researches have even found evidence supporting the idea that killer whales feed on blue sharks. Therefore, besides humans, sharks themselves are their greatest predator.
A Healthy Diet Does A Body Good
Squid is the preferred food of blue sharks, but they are far from being the only ingredient in their diet. Octopus, crabs, tuna, and even smaller sharks have been found to be part of a blue shark’s balanced diet. With their triangular shaped teeth, and their impressive swimming, blue sharks easily catch smaller prey. However, they are also capable of taking down larger prey.
Blue sharks can often be found in schools. When they hunt, should the need for help arise, one of the other sharks from the school can easily join in. This results in less prey getting away, and fuller stomachs for the school. A hierarchy system is in place, and the school is segregated by size and sex. As an individual, the Blue shark is a fierce predator, but working together as one cohesive unit, they seem virtually unstoppable.
Never Call One Place Home
Blue sharks can be found in a vast amount of locations. They tend to follow a migration pattern that runs from the Gulf Stream to the Caribbean. From there, blue sharks swim along the coast of the United States, Eastern Europe, Southern Africa and then back to the Caribbean. Preferring waters that are a temperature of 50-68 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 20 degrees Celsius), blue sharks can often be found along coastal areas, except around the Polar Circle.
The elegance in their swimming was noted earlier. Blue sharks usually swim around at a leisurely pace, but when the need arises, they can kick in another gear. One reliable study recorded a blue shark at a speed of 24.5 miles (39.4 km) per hour. So, although this species normally takes its time about getting where it is going, they can outperform most others in the ocean.
Captivity Does Not Mesh Well With Blue Sharks
There have not been very many positive outcomes to come from blue sharks being kept in captivity. This is understandable after hearing about the 1969 incident above, but not all of the captive sharks have met such a cruel fate. Most trials have ended without the blue sharks even living for a year, but the most promising instance happened at the New Jersey State Aquarium. A 6 foot blue shark was kept in captivity for 7 months before an infection caused the shark to die.
We have learned much from these attempts at captivity to the blue shark, but at a cost. As we learn more about these elegant, beautiful sharks, perhaps we can change their fate, and help mankind as well.