Scared of Sharks? 5 Reasons Why You Should be Amazed by Them

Great White Shark, Ian Lauder

As the feared hunters of the ocean, sharks have long been persecuted and misunderstood. However, when I was a kid, I never saw them as vicious creatures. I was always fascinated and constantly reading up on my shark facts (just ask my parents). Here are five of my favorites:

  1. As hunters, sharks rely on their keen sense of smell to find their next meal. They can smell a single drop of blood from over a mile away. In terms of relative volume, this is comparable to detecting a golf ball in Loch Ness.
  2. The shark has the greatest electrical sensitivity of any animal. They have electroreceptors near their eyes and nose called Ampulae of Lorrenzini, which helps them sense electric fields emitted by other living creatures. By detecting these electric fields, sharks can find prey hidden in the sand.
  3. Most sharks give birth to fully-developed babies, known as pups. In the womb, the litter of fully-grown pups wrestle for the limited space and will eat each other until there are only a few pups left. When they are born, they only have a few minutes to swim away, or else they risk being eaten by their own mother.  Some species of sharks lay egg sacs, known as mermaid’s purses.
  4. Imagine that your entire body felt as squishy as your nose or your ear. For sharks, this is a reality, since their skeletons are made entirely of cartilage. Cartilage is flexible and durable, and reduces the skeleton’s weight. This allows the shark to save energy and to swim at high speeds towards prey.
  5. A shark’s teeth are its most fearsome set of tools. But with all that wear and tear, sharks lose teeth continuously. Some may lose up to 30,000 or more in their lifetime. But not to worry, sharks constantly replace their lost teeth. Their rate of tooth replacement varies from once every 8–10 days to several months. If humans could do that, our dentists would be furious.

Today, many shark species are threatened or endangered, yet shark finning continues to be a popular commercial fishing practice, due to the high price of shark fin soup. Watch the following video to learn about what it takes to make this expensive Chinese delicacy.



Want to help sharks? You can support NWF and protect sharks by adopting your very own Great White Shark!

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Published: October 27, 2011