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.
Sharks get a bad rap. Fortunately, Kool Kid Kreyola aims to turn their reputation around and show the world how misunderstood these demonized creatures are with his music video for “Me and My Shark Fin.” The song, set to the tune of Tupac’s “Me and My Girlfriend,” dispels the stories that sharks actively hunt humans, explaining, “I don’t mean to bite a surfer / I’m a, I’m a, I’m a underwater predator / just doing my thing.” Check out the complete lyrics, brilliantly annotated by shark expert David Shiffman, here.
Now, if we can just get the Tupac hologram to cover this version…
TRUE: One of the rarest sharks is called a megamouth shark. TRUE: Some sharks can increase their size by swallowing large amounts of water. FALSE: Like dolphins, sharks do not have scales.
Sharks are covered with small, tooth-like scales called dermal denticles. Sharks feel smooth to the touch because their scales are designed to reduce drag. Megamouth sharks and swell sharks are both real animals! Megamouths sound scary, but they’re filter feeders and prefer plankton. Swell sharks, as their name implies, can swell up to twice their normal body size just by swallowing water. What’s your favorite shark?