Shark Week is back! Sharks are often misunderstood, feared by most people and given a bad reputation by the media. To help set the record straight about sharks, here is a list of interesting and informative facts to help you better understand and appreciate these amazing animals and get the most out of Shark Week.
Sharks have been on this planet for a long, long time. The earliest known sharks date back to more than 420 million years ago, or around the same time that life first adapted to walking on land. From these humble beginnings, sharks have branched into over 500 species, found in every sea and in depths of up to 6,600 feet.
Though many people are afraid of sharks, it really should be the other way around: it’s estimated that 100 million sharks are killed each year due to commercial and recreational fishing. Their fins are a particular target of many fishermen, with 1.44 million tons of fins harvested in one year alone. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) suggests that a quarter of all known shark and ray species are threatened by extinction.
There is only around one fatality from shark attacks each year. Compared to the thousands of people who enter the ocean every day, this number is startlingly low.. In comparison, cows kill, on average, around twenty people per year.
A shark’s toothy grin can contain up to 3,000 teeth at a time and are embedded in the gums, rather than in the jawbone itself, as human teeth are. Their teeth are continuously re-growing, and they can replace them one at a time. It’s thought that they could go through as many as 30,000 teeth in a lifetime.
Sharks have a real sixth sense. Small electroreceptors in a shark’s head, called Ampullae of Lorenzini, are essentially jelly filled pores that can sense the electromagnetic fields that every animal gives off. This special sense allows sharks to find their prey, often finding animals hiding beneath the sand or under rocks.