16 Shark Facts to Change Your Perception

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Sharks get a bad rep, but they are responsible for shaping our oceans and our planet. Without sharks, the world would not exist as know it. These shark facts will change the way you think about these fascinating animals.

Shark facts

Shark Facts

1. There are over 500 species of sharks.

Of the 500 species, 143 are under threat, listed from vulnerable to critically endangered.

Sharks are the victims of shark finning, bycatch, shark hunts, and more. Not to mention the devastation and threat to their home – the ocean.

2. Sharks do not have bones.

Sharks’ skeletons are made entirely of cartilage. When a shark dies, the salt of the ocean completely dissolves its skeleton, leaving only the shark teeth behind.

3. Sharks have a literal sixth sense.

All sharks have a “sixth sense.” This helps them hone in on prey during the final phase of their attack.

The ‘ampullae of Lorenzini’ is found on the shark’s snout. It can sense the electric fields emitted by animals in their proximity.

4. Sharks have been around a long time.

Sharks have been around for over 400 million years – long before dinosaurs and even trees! Some of the earliest sharks were discovered, dating back to the Devonian age.

Sharks have survived five massive planet extinction events. Some sharks in modern times have not changed for over 150 million years.

5. Bull sharks can live in fresh or salt water.

They are able to regulate themselves to live in either. They can live in fresh water for their entire life but don’t mostly due to reproduciton.

6. Sharks’ gestation period varies.

A pregnant female shark’s gestation period can range from five months to two years.

Female sharks lose their appetite before giving birth.

7. Fatal shark attacks are rare.

On average, only six people are fatally wounded by sharks each year worldwide.

Once a shark realizes it has misidentified a human as its natural prey, it loses interest and swims away.

Examples of things that kill more people:

  • Falling coconuts (15)
  • Jellyfish (50)
  • Lightning strikes (37)
  • Hippos (2,900)
  • Deer (130)
  • Cows (22)
  • Vending machines (13)

8. Most sharks will die if they stop moving.

Most species of sharks will drown if they stop moving, including the great white and mako sharks.

They don’t have the muscles needed to pump water through their mouth and over their gills.

They go through a process known as “sleep swimming.” During this process, the shark is essentially unconscious.

9. Sharks are the most important species in the ocean

All life on Earth depends on life in the ocean, which sharks control. Sharks have protected our reefs, oceans, and planet for millions of years.

10. You measure the age of a shark as you do a tree.

A shark’s age is determined by counting the rings on its vertebrae.

11. Humans kill 100 million sharks each year.

That’s 11,000 each hour.

12. Great white sharks communicate with each other through body language.

Some common communications involve zigzag swimming, head shaking, hunched backs, and head butts.

Sharks don’t make any noise. They do not have vocal cords and do not use any audible sounds to communicate.

13. Basking sharks rarely travel alone.

Typically they travel in pairs but have been seen in schools as large as 100.

14. Shark tourism generates more than $300 million USD annually.

Due to a thriving ecotourism industry and public fascination with sharks, shark tourism generates over $300 million each year.

15. Hammerheads have 360-degree vision.

A study found that the placement of their eyes gives them binocular vision and the ability to see 360 degrees.

Shark facts - hammerhead shark

16. Tiger sharks will eat just about anything.

The tiger shark has definitely earned its nickname of “garbage disposal of the sea.” Things that have been discovered in the stomach of a tiger shark: license plates from almost every U.S. state, video cameras, dog leashes, birth control pills, and a bag of money.

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