1. Sharks have a sixth sense.
Not to see dead people, but living prey. Special organs in their snouts called ampullae of Lorenzini pick up on the tiny electrical pulses emitted from the muscle movements or beating hearts. Not only is electroreception used to locate other sharks or prey, but it is also employed as a compass during migration.
2. Sharks can reproduce in 3 different ways
Some sharks lay eggs in the ocean (Oviparity).
Some sharks develop pups inside a placenta, just like mammals (Viviparity).
But most sharks develop as eggs inside the mother before hatching inside the oviduct to finish development. When they’re ready, the mother gives birth in the ocean (Ovoviviparity).
3. Wait did I say 3 ways? There’s a 4th!
Some female sharks, often those in captivity, have been known to reproduce without the aid of a male, essentially cloning themselves. It’s an example of parthenogenesis, wherein embryos can be created with external fertilization, and has been seen in all types of animals except for mammals. Considering that male sharks can be extremely violent during mating, I’m not surprised.
4. Sharks can’t get cavities.
Shark teeth are covered in fluoride, which means they don’t have to brush to prevent cavities. This is pretty lucky because the average shark has 40-45 teeth and can have up to seven rows of replacement teeth. Sharks often go through more than 30,000 teeth in a lifetime.
5. Humans and sharks are genetically related.
Large-scale analysis of the genes of great white sharks revealed that the proportion of its genes associated with metabolism and its heart RNA molecules were more similar to those of humans than of zebrafish, part of the bony fish line.
6. Sharks and humans even use the same hunter-gatherer techniques.
Sharks, bees, and many other animals follow a pattern known as the Lévy walk when they forage. The pattern, which involves a series of short movements in one area and then a longer trek to another area, is not limited to searching for food. A recent study confirmed that hunter-gatherer tribes of humans also follow the pattern. Other research has shown that humans sometimes follow a Lévy walk while ambling around an amusement park.
7. Sharks have insane vomiting abilities.
If a shark eats something it doesn’t like or can’t digest, it vomits through an interesting process called gastric eversion. During this process, the shark actually turns its stomach inside out and spits it out through its mouth, ejecting the entire contents.
8. Sharks almost never get sick.
“Shark tissue appears to have anticoagulant and antibacterial properties. Scientists are studying it in hopes of finding treatments for a number of medical conditions, including viruses, cystic fibrosis and some forms of cancer,” explains Conservation International.
9. Sharks use their dorsal fin like a finger in the wind.
Research suggests that when a shark plies surface waters (i.e. when the dorsal fin cuts through the sea’s surface), it could be detecting pressure waves associated with a struggling animal nearby.
10. Sharks like to sunbathe.
Some marine biologists believe that sharks come to shore not because they’re hungry, but because they enjoy sunbathing. They swim toward shallow water to get more exposure to the sun, warm up their bodies, and yes, can even get a tan.
11. Sharks chillax to AC/DC.
Matt Waller, a tour operator in Neptune Bay, Australia discovered that great white sharks act more calmly when listening to music by AC/DC. The two songs favored by the sharks: “You Shook Me All Night Long” and “Back in Black.”
12. Not all sharks hunt with their teeth.
The thresher or “thrasher” shark can be distinguished by its massive, arching tail. It hunts by swirling schools of fish together into a big group, and then swatting at them with it’s lethal tail-whip.
13. Of the nearly 400 known shark species most of them are…completely unknown. Even to marine biologists. Here are some you’ve probably never heard of.
Bahamas sawshark: uses those two long beards to detect prey in dark waters.
Indonesian speckled carpetshark: one of those few species of shark that “walks” on seabed by pushing with their pectoral fins. It was just discovered in 2006.
Megamouth shark: feeds by filtering plankton through his 4.2 foot-long mouth. Has only been recorded alive 3 times.
Velvet belly lantern shark: has glowing spines that may be used to ward off predators.
17. Sharks help keep the carbon cycle in motion.
“By feeding on dead matter that collects on the seafloor, scavengers like deep-sea sharks, hagfish and starfish not only keep themselves alive, they also help to move carbon through the ocean. In addition, research has found that, like trees, large marine animals such as whales and sharks sequester and store large amounts of carbon in their bodies. When they die naturally, they sink to the seafloor where they are eaten by scavengers.”
18. Sharks don’t actually hunt humans.
Most “attacks” on humans are mistakes due to poor water visibility or are inquisitive bites (the ocean is their house, after all). This is why there are so many more bites than fatalities. Besides, humans taste like the crap we eat. Blech. You actually have a greater chance of being killed by bee stings or struck dead by lightning than being fatally wounded by a shark.
19. In the few shark attacks that do occur each year, it’s usually because the humans were acting like shark food.
20. For every human killed by a shark, two million sharks are killed by humans.
“This is unsustainable for sharks and is having a decimating effect on the world’s fisheries and the health of all marine ecosystems. When an apex predator is removed from a community, sick animals are left to spread disease, the food source of the prey species cannot support the newly expanded population. When the food disappears, the consumers starve to death.” According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are 201 sharks on the “Red List” of endangered species.
21. Most die through the gruesome and pointless act of shark finning.
Finning is the inhumane practice of hacking off the shark’s fins and throwing its still living body back into the sea. The sharks either starve to death, are eaten alive by other fish, or drown (if they are not in constant movement their gills cannot extract oxygen from the water). This slaughter happens solely to feed the demand for an Asian delicacy called ‘shark fin soup.’
“Commercial shark fishing, climate change, and shark finning are all human-based phenomena that have sparked a rapid decline in global shark populations. Oceana.org estimates that shark finning kills 26 to 73 million sharks each year just for the fins alone. This means that humans, not sharks, are the ocean predators that ought to strike fear into the public’s heart.”