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The 50 most amazing facts about sharks

The 50 most amazing facts about sharks

The 50 most amazing facts about sharks

Related: 15 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Jaws

 


They're the great, feared, dead-eyed monsters of the sea - but they're probably not quite the ruthless killing machines you'd pegged them as.

While 1975's Jaws had an entire generation terrified of ever going back into the water and made the shark a notorious persona non grata, the truth on these beautiful animals is somewhat more nuanced than the crazed psycho killers found in Spielberg's masterpiece.

We've compiled 50 amazing facts about these fantastic beasts. And don't stop reading until you're fin-ished.

(Images: Shutterstock/Rex/Getty/Dianne Bray/Museum Victoria)

1

Between 30 and 80 percent of a shark's flesh is made of water. A protein network gives the flesh its structure.


2

One of the Lord Mayors of London was a shark attack victim in 1749. Brook Watson lost his leg to a shark while docked off the coast of Cuba.


3

Shark teeth are popular and often inexpensive beach souvenirs. Sharks shed their teeth constantly throughout their lifespan.


4

Of the roughly 50 shark attacks reported each year, only 10 percent prove to be fatal. So while an attack is rare, dying from one is even rarer.


5

As sensational as shark attack newspaper headlines are, the reality is that you are more likely to be bitten by another person than a shark.


6

While many people consider sharks to be the world's deadliest animal, you are more likely to be killed by hornets, wasps, bees, or dogs.


7

Certain shark species (such as great white) will drown if they stop moving. They lack the necessary muscles to pump water through their mouth.


8

Overfishing has dangerous effects on sharks such as the whale shark, which has to reach 30 years of age before it can reproduce. 


9

From 1580 to 2007, there were 64 reported fatal great white shark attacks. Sharks don't fare as well; millions of them are killed every year.


10

Sharks' livers contain lots of oil. This makes the liver a relatively buoyant organ, which helps sharks keep their balance in the water.


11

Although heavily fictionalized, Jaws was based on a real attack in 1916, when four people were killed by a shark off the New Jersey coastline.


12

A common shark myth is that they don't attack in the middle of the day; however. this is when most beach-goers leave the water to eat lunch.


13

Sharks do not follow the same three-meals-a-day eating schedule as humans do. They eat when they find food, regardless of time and hunger.


14

Punching a shark in the nose or poking its eyes can help to fend it off during an attack. Most sharks don't want to work hard for their food.


15

While more likely to die from drowning, surfers can succumb to shark attacks because of their boards: to great whites, their outline resembles that of seals.


16

Almost all sharks like to do their hunting solo, but scalloped hammerhead sharks prefer to travel in schools during their summer migration.


17

Tiger, great white, and bull sharks perpetrate most attacks on humans. They hunt human-sized prey and are capable of inflicting fatal bites.


18

20 percent of sharks are close to extinction because of commercial fisheries accidentally catching sharks with their hooks and nets.


19

If a shark bites you, it probably won't take a second taste. They typically bite, then let go after realizing they're not eating sea animals.


20

Sharks that eat their siblings' eggs in the womb are not vicious. They are just seeking nutrients for sustaining their own growth.


21

Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island were inspirations for the fictional town of Amity Island in Steven Spielberg's 1975 thriller Jaws.


22

Jaws may have caused a decline in beach attendance in the 1970s, even though great white sharks are fairly uncommon in north-eastern waters of the US.


23

Great white sharks eat 11 tons of food each year, while humans eat roughly half a ton of food during the same amount of time.


24

You don't have to be in the ocean to see a shark. Bull sharks love freshwater, and have been spotted in bays, lagoons, and rivers.


25

Most shark species can be found in open water, allowing them plenty of space to swim and an abundance of fish to eat.


26

The goblin shark lives along outer continental shelves and underwater mountain ranges. Their dwellings are too deep for human exploration


27

For tiger shark mums-to-be, two different uteri are the key to giving birth to multiple pups. 


29

Whale sharks are the world's biggest fish, with big families, too. One whale shark can give birth to 300 live shark pups in one litter.


29

Blue sharks are among the most threatened shark species in the world. Overfishing and trade in fins have caused the population to decline.


30

Until recently, sharks were thought to be immune to cancer, but the latest scientific research proves otherwise.


31

Most shark attacks on humans occur within a few hundred yards of shore, because that is where people are most likely to be.


32

One way to study sharks in the wild is through tracking devices that send updates to researchers, such as the Smart Position-Only Tag (SPOT).


33

SPOT records sharks' activities and transmits data to a satellite. Pop-Up Archival Tags (PAT) record details of the sharks' environments.


34

The frilled shark's circular mouth, filled with more than 300 spiny teeth, earns it the nickname of the modern Loch Ness Monster.


35

Most sharks live in saltwater, so how do river sharks survive in freshwater? They absorb extra water then urinate into streams around them.


36

What's older than sharks? Almost nothing. Sharks have existed in oceans for more than 400 million years. They predate humans and dinosaurs.


37

Shark fin soup is a delicacy in China and is served at important events like weddings and anniversaries. The dried fins resemble noodles.


38

While shark fin soup is a Chinese tradition, the primary downside to finning is that it causes the deaths of 73 million sharks every year.


39

Exactly how a shark comes into the world depends on its species. Horn sharks, for example, hatch from egg cases called "mermaid's purses."


40

You'd need much more than a "bigger boat" to track down a shark responsible for an attack. Sharks can travel hundreds of miles in a day.


41

Despite rumours to the contrary, shark cartilage doesn't reduce the growth of tumours in humans, and can have negative side effects.


42

You may think of sharks as ravenous, man-eating sea terrorists, but only 20 of the 350+ shark species are known to attack humans.


43

Shark attacks most often occur near California because the US Govt protection of sea mammals has increased their populations, creating more shark food.


44

While many humans fear sharks, they are the ones who should fear us. Humans kill 73 million sharks annually.


45

Sound waves travel fast and far in water, so sharks have no trouble picking up low-pitched noises from movements such schools of fish.


46

Humans are the number one predator of sharks, but killer whales, crocodiles, and seals have been known to eat them as well.


47

Large sharks have been known to target smaller, younger sharks that serve as easily attainable prey.


48

Even though sharks have razor-sharp teeth, they don't use them for chewing prey. They are for ripping; resulting chunks are swallowed whole.


49

Sharks aren't colour blind. Divers have claimed that sharks are attracted to certain colours, such as the "yummy yellow" of some wetsuits.


50

While colour preference is debatable, scientists know that some sharks have developed cones like the ones humans use to distinguish colours.


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