News

The 50 most amazing facts about sharks

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)

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks

    1

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 1

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 2

    3

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 3

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 4

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 5

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 6

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 7

    8

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 8

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 9

    10

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 10

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 11

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 12

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 13

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 14

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 15

    16

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 16

    17

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 17

    18

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

Shortlist

news straight to your inbox

subscribe to our newsletter
Read our privacy policy
  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 18

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 19

    20

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 20

    21

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 21

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 22

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 23

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 24

    25

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 25

    26

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 26

    27

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 27

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 28

    29

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 29

    30

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 30

    31

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 31

    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).

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 32

    33

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 33

    34

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 34

    35

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 35

    36

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 36

    37

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 37

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 38

    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."

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 39

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 40

    41

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 41

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 42

    43

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 43

    44

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 44

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 45

    46

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 46

    47

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 47

    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.

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 48

    49

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

  • The 50 most amazing facts about sharks 49

    50

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