Surprising Shark Facts

They have a bad reputation, but sharks are rather remarkable creatures

The 14th July is Shark Awareness Day. Sharks have a hard time; as well as being feared the world over, 100 million are killed by humans every year for their fins or as bycatch. Predatory sharks like great whites and tiger sharks are undeniably intimidating, with their dark eyes and sharp teeth, but Shark Awareness Day is a celebration of the 450 fascinating shark species swimming in the world’s oceans.

If you’re not convinced by these stunning fish, here are 10 facts that might change your mind:

  1. The whale shark is the largest fish on the planet – the biggest individual on record measured in at 12.65 metres (41.5 feet) long
  2. To communicate and detect prey, sharks have organs that detect electrical pulses.
  3. Sharks evolved around 450 million years ago, before trees existed and 200 million years before the dinosaurs.
  4. Predatory sharks have multiple rows of teeth and replace those lost during hunts – some species go through 30,000 in their lifetime.
  5. While many hunt fish, some sharks eat seagrass or feed on tiny krill.
  6. Some species, including the great white shark, have to swim constantly to keep water moving over their gills.
  7. Unlike other fish, sharks have smooth scales to make them fast in the water.
  8. Female bluntnose sharks can give birth to litters of over 100 pups.
  9. The smallest shark, the dwarf lanternshark, is just 15 centimetres (six inches) long.
  10. Sharks have been known to occasionally reproduce parthenogenically – without a male.

Image: Elias Levy/flickr