“SHARK!” Does the word conjure up images of a fin slicing toward you in the open ocean or on the edge of your seat completely absorbed in one of the year’s best television specials?
In preparation for Shark Week, which starts this Sunday, we’ve put together a roundup of some of our best shark blog posts from the past year:
What’s Your Shark IQ? How much do you think you know about sharks? Before taking a deep dive into the world of these complex creatures, test your basic knowledge with our short quiz. Do you know which shark swims the fastest?
If “Sharknado” taught us anything, it’s that shark “attacks” come in a variety of forms.
But some researchers are questioning how we talk about them.
In general, the term shark “attack” is used by the media and the public to describe all kinds of human-shark interaction—even when there’s no harm or injury, according to Christopher Neff of the University of Sydney, Australia and Dr. Robert Hueter, leader of Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research, who released a study earlier this year.
They suggest a new classification for “human–shark incidents” to support more accurate reporting about shark interactions. The categories, according to the press release:
Shark sightings: Sightings of sharks in the water in proximity to people with no physical contact.
Shark encounters: No bite takes place and no humans are injured, but physical contact occurs with a person or an inanimate object holding a person, such as a surfboard or boat. A shark might also bump a swimmer and its rough skin might cause a minor abrasion.
Shark bites: Bites by small or large sharks that result in minor to moderate injuries.
Fatal shark bites: One or more bites causing fatal injuries. The authors caution against using the term “shark attack” unless the motivation and intent of the shark are clearly established by experts, which is rarely possible.
Beach season begins this weekend and invariably this time of year brings with it flashy stories of shark attacks. All too often we hear about encounters with sharks in ways that make them sound far more common than they are, and make them sound like devious, intentional actions taken against people by sharks. In this video for CNN, Ocean Conservancy Board Member Philippe Cousteau separates the myths from facts and explains what’s really happening when sharks and people meet.
Our most popular tweet of the week deals with an updated report on the amount of sharks that are killed every year by humans, with the tally at a sobering 100 million. That’s 30 to 60 percent higher than sharks can sustain at their current population growth rates, which illustrates how large of a problem dwindling shark populations are becoming. With sharks being such a naturally powerful maintenance mechanism in the ocean, this is definitely a conservation issue worth looking into.
Eight years ago, Debbie Salamone was attacked by a shark in the shallow waters of Florida’s Cape Canaveral National Seashore. The shark severed her Achilles tendon and led her to question her two-decade career as an environmental reporter.
After surgery and months of recovery, she came to realize that if she loved the ocean, she had to love everything in it – even sharks.
Sharks play an important role in the ocean ecosystem, Salamone explains. Removing these top predators – whether through overfishing or harmful practices like shark-finning – can have dire consequences that ripple throughout the ecosystem.
“I realized my unique position: Who could better speak up for sharks than myself and people like me?” she says.
True or false? Sharks have a sixth sense.
True. A network of small, jelly-filled pores along their snouts called the ampullae of Lorenzini pick up on the electrical fields created by the contracting muscles of a swimming fish or a beating heart. This helps sharks locate prey buried in sand. Continue reading »
The height of the summer beach season means many things: vacations, sleeping in, getting a tan; but for some ocean-goers, one fear can wind up taking over… Sharks.
Over the years sharks have been sensationalized as cold-blooded man-eaters. Peter Benchley’s “Jaws” certainly did a number on humanity when Spielberg brought this terrifying, Megalodon-Great White hybrid to life in the 1975 film adaptation. Since then, sharks have continued to sing a bittersweet symphony in our lives. We are terrified of these animals, yet completely fascinated by their behavior, size, and power.
While sharks maintain their status at the top of the food chain as the oceans’ greatest predator, humans are not on their preferred menu. There are many objects and activities that we encounter much more regularly that are more likely to kill us than the bite of a shark, outlined in our latest graphic above.