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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

Sharks are Jawesome

Posted On August 10, 2014 by

Photo: Cheryl Black

It’s that time of year again—Shark Week!

We love Shark Week because it’s an entire week dedicated to one of the ocean’s coolest animals. With more than 500 species, there are a lot of reasons to love sharks! Here are some of our favorite shark facts.

  • Sharks belong to a class of animals called Elasmobranchs, which also includes rays and skates. The animals in this group have “bones” made up of cartilage—the same stuff that’s found in your nose and ears.
  • Sharks come in all shapes and sizes! The smallest species of shark, the dwarf lanternshark, is only 8 inches long! That’s about the size of a pencil! On the other hand, the whale shark is the biggest fish in the sea! It can be over 40 feet long and weigh 20 tons!
  • Sharks have lots of amazing adaptations to make them perfectly suited to live in their environments. The Goblin shark has a set of protusive jaws, which project from its mouth to catch prey. When you live in the depths of the ocean, it’s important never to miss a meal! And the bull shark?  It’s not just restricted to saltwater—it can swim in freshwater and brackish water to search for prey!

  • Sharks have electroreceptors on the sides of their body. This allows them to sense magnetic fields underwater. Scientists believe these highly sensitive receptors allow sharks to detect the muscular movements of their prey, as well as navigate during long journeys.
  • Speaking of long journeys—sharks travel far! They swim hundreds of miles across the ocean. One shark, nicknamed Lydia, recently became the first known shark to cross the mid-Atlantic ridge, an underwater mountain range separating the Eurasian and North American  tectonic plates.
  • Sharks eat just about anything. Fish, sea lions, and even other sharks. Tiger Sharks (who are sometimes called the “garbage disposals” of the ocean) have been found with tires, liscense plates and other trash in their stomachs.
  • Sharks have a lot more to fear from people, than people do from sharks. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed by humans every year. And a recent report from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that a quarter of sharks and rays are threatened with extinction.

Want more shark facts? We’ll be sharing lots of shark content all week long! Tune into our Twitter account every night to see our live tweets of Shark Week’s programs.

We’re also hosting a Fin-tastic Google Hangout on Thursday, August 14th at 11:00 a.m. EST. We have several great panelists, including David Shiffman, Juliet Elperin, and Dr. Joe Quattro. You can submit your questions on Twitter using the hashtag #SharkWeekOC.

We’re looking forward to a great Shark Week, and we hope you are, too!