Everyone Knows The Big Names
For most people, you can probably count the number of shark species that they know on one hand. There are over 400 different species of sharks, so that number should be way higher. Unless you are a shark enthusiast, or researcher, you likely do not know many of those species. Learning about some of these lesser known shark species will spark an interest inside of you, that can not be extinguished.
The Megamouth Shark
People have probably seen the name Megamouth, or heard small amounts of information about them. Unfortunately, small amounts are all that is available. Discovered in 1976, off of the coast of Hawii, the shark created quite a stir in the shark enthusiast community. However, since the initial discovery, very few sightings have been confirmed. There have been only 54 documented sightings, with only 3 of those being captured on film.
Megamouth Sharks are filter feeders. There are only 3 types of filter feeding sharks, and they are Megamouth Sharks, Basking Sharks, and Whale Sharks. Basically, they swim around with their mouth open, allowing suction to pull prey towards the mouth. The water is filtered out around the gills, allowing other items that were in the water to remain. These items are then consumed by the filter feeder.
Plankton and jelly fish are among two preferred favorites of filter feeders. The lips of a Megamouth Shark are unlike any other, and the head looks disproportional to the body. There is no denying that Megamouth Sharks are lesser known shark species, but learning more about them should be a priority.
The Frilled Shark
Depths in which some fish swim are mostly unattainable by humans, so the deeper they are, the less we know about them. The Frilled Shark is also often referred to as Frill Shark, or living fossil. They are very eel-like in appearance, except for their dorsal, pectoral, anal and prolonged caudal fin. Scientifically, and officially, the Frilled Shark goes by Chlamydoselachus Anguineus, which is quite a mouthful.
The mouth of the Frilled Shark looks larger than it actually is. At first glance, it is huge, but this is merely because the mouth extends to the rear of the head, rather than stopping beneath the skull. The sightings of this species have been sporadic, so it is hard to pinpoint where one might be spotted. Sightings have occurred in locations such as Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and Chile.
The long gills are “frilly” in appearance. This is due to the extended tips of gill filaments, and the first set of gills meet around the throat area, which resembles a collar. Due to the lack of research, and the lack of live encounters, information is scarce, but as we continue to explore the depths more, new mysteries are uncovered.
This species is also commonly referred to as the Zebra Shark, or Leopard Shark. Juveniles have stripes on their skin, which you guessed it, resembles a zebra. As the shark matures, the stripes begin to dissipate, and spots start to appear. The spots resemble those of a leopard, hence the name Leopard Shark. Zebra Sharks are easily distinguishable as juveniles, and as adults.
Zebra Sharks are approximately 6.5 to 11.5 ft (2 to 3.5 m), and weigh 44 to 66 lbs (20 to 30 kg). The species are known as bottom dwellers, and they are commonly referred to as “carpet fish”. They are one of the few species that has the capability of resting easily on the ocean floor. Most of the time, they point themselves in the direction of the natural water flow. This allows water to easily be pumped through the gills, without any movement being required.
This is an amazing technique used by this lesser known shark because most sharks are in constant motion. They require constant motion, just to stay alive. Therefore, this is a unique characteristic that deserves to be recognized.
The Greenland Shark
Greenland Sharks are enormous in size. They normally weigh in at around 2,000 lbs (900 kg), and grow to lengths of approximately 21 ft (6.5 m). This makes this species among some of the largest sharks in the ocean. The North Atlantic Ocean is where most of these sharks reside, but sightings have also been confirmed in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Gulf of Maine.
These sharks prefer colder climates. They can often be found swimming in frigid temperatures, which can be expected at depths of up to 2,400 ft (730 m). However, during winter months, Greenland Sharks can be seen near the water’s surface. On average, this species lives 272 years, however, a recent study suggests that this fish may live for over 400 years.
Greenland Sharks are virtually blind. Parasites crowd the eyes, making them useless, but the sense of smell goes above and beyond. These large sharks make hunting look easy, and flawless, due to this heightened sense of smell. Greenland Sharks have a preferred taste of Narwhal and Beluga, but feast on a wide variety of marine life.
Due to the defense mechanism that Greenland Sharks possess, they should not appear on a lesser known shark species list. One would think that a fish of this enormous size would not have a problem deterring predators, and to make sure of it their skin is poisonous. For example, human consumption may be acceptable, but feeding the meat to an animal will have adverse effects.
Lesser Known Shark Species Deserve More Recognition
Just as humans are unique in their own ways, so are sharks. It is our duty to recognize each species, research each species accordingly, and make each species known equally. All sharks are fascinating creatures, and some of the mysteries surrounding them, may be the key to helping mankind. For instance, sharks do not get cancer often. Researchers are studying these fish in hopes of one day unlocking the mysteries surrounding cancer. The benefits that can be gained from learning more about all shark species are unimaginable.