Few Facts on Sharks

Reef sharks in a cavern in Gato island, Malapascua
Reef sharks in a cavern in Gato Island, Malapascua

In celebration of Shark Week, which was originally developed to raise awareness and respect for sharks, it would be interesting to know few facts about this often misunderstood species.. Hopefully, this will gain more understanding of this amazing marine creatures.

1. Sharks move like airplanes. They create forward movement with their tails (like propellers) and water moves over their fins like wings

2. Different sharks have different etiquette for feeding. Caribbean reef sharks, for example, have a pecking order catering to large sharks 1st

3. Certain shark species (such as great white) will drown if they stop moving. They lack necessary muscles to pump water through their mouth

4. Blue sharks are piggy eaters. They’ll keep eating until they regurgitate, after which they go back to eating!

5. 20% of sharks are close to extinction because of commercial fisheries accidentally catching sharks with their hooks and nets

6. Researchers have discovered common objects (tires, gasoline tanks, and license plates) left intact inside the stomachs of tiger sharks

7. Hammerhead sharks’ oddly shaped heads, called cephalofoils, are equipped with electrical sensors, making them superior hunters

8. Sharks aren’t color blind. Divers have claimed that sharks are attracted to certain colors, such as the “yummy yellow” of some wetsuits

9. Almost 50 different shark species have light-emitting organs called photospheres. Sharks use their light for camouflage and to attract mates

10. A shark’s size relates to where it hunts: smaller sharks feed near the ocean floor, while larger sharks hunt in the middle ocean depths

11. When the USS Indianapolis was attacked by a shark during World War II, 900 sailors were stranded in the Philippine Sea near Guam for 4 days

12. While more likely to die from drowning, surfers can succumb to shark attacks because of their boards, which to great whites resemble seals

13. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in China and is served at important events like weddings and anniversaries. The dried fins resemble noodles

14. You can’t see a shark’s ears, but their inner ears can track sounds of their prey from lengths of more than 800 feet (244 meters)

15. Sharks are susceptible to the moon’s control of ocean tides. Moon phases affect sharks’ eating habits and draw them closer to shore

16. Sharks have an astounding sense of smell, so powerful that they can detect a single drop of blood in an Olympic-sized pool

17. Signs that a circling shark will attack: it will hunch its back, lower its pectoral fins (fins near its belly) and swim in zigzag motions

18. Even though sharks have razor-sharp teeth, they don’t use them for chewing prey. They are for ripping; resulting chunks are swallowed whole

19. Punching a shark in the nose or poking its eyes can help to fend it off during an attack. Most sharks don’t want to work hard for their food

20. While many of us have learned to fear sharks, they are the ones who should fear us. Humans kill 73 million sharks annually

NB. Photo courtesy of my dive buddy Angel during our dive at Gato Island

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