When talking about sharks, our subconscious usually plays out images of the Hollywood blockbuster : Jaws. Yet, the Great White Shark is not the only shark out there! There are over 400 different species of sharks on the planet. Here’s 10 fact funs you didn’t know about sharks.
The whale shark : the largest of all
With over 400 different species, there is a great variety of shape, size and behavior in sharks. The largest species in the shark kingdom is the whale shark.It can measure up to 16m (50 feet) long and weigh over 18 tons (40 000 pounds).
The smallest shark
The dwarf shark in the Caribbean, as the name would suggest, is the smallest of all sharks with a maximum of 20cm (8 inch.) in size. It is closely followed by the pygmy shark which can measure up to 25cm (10inch.)
The rarest shark
Discovered only in 1976 in Hawaii, the Megamouth is amongst the rarest species of sharks. Since then, only 58 sightings of this plankton-feeder have been recorded.
The fastest shark
The Mako Shark is considered to be the fastest of the shark species reaching a maximum speed of 74km/h (46mph). Next is the Great White Shark followed by the Blue Shark. These record speeds are usually short bursts to catch a prey.
Shark skeletons are made of cartilage, like the tip of our nose, and not bone. This allows greater flexibility underwater.
Sharks have great eyesight
Like humans, sharks can tell light from dark as well as detect colors. In addition, sharks can see in murky waters. One extra special feature is the shark’s eyelid. During an attack, this membrane closes for protection. In some other species, such as the Great White Shark, the pupils roll back during an attack.
Unlike the majority of fish which can pump water, sharks must swim constantly to draw water through their gills in order to breathe. This explains why shark finning is quickly depleted the number of sharks in our ocean. Without their fins, they become unable to swim and therefore to breathe. In addition, sharks cannot either swim backward or hover in water.
To build interest and to arouse a female shark, the male will bite here during mating. For this reason, in certain species, the female sharks have developed tougher skin.
Adapting to their environment
Similar to crocodiles, there are both sea water and freshwater sharks. River sharks are mainly found in South-East Asia and Australia. But one, the bull shark, can adapt to either habitat by maintaining a constant concentration of water in their body. This unique ability in shark is called osmoregulation.
Dog eats dog
Early cannibalism is not unknown of in the shark kingdom. One species in particular, the sand tiger shark, practices adelphophagy, that is intrauterine cannibalism. Before being born, the first pups to hatch will devour its brothers and sisters. That’s what’s survival of the fittest in the womb !