Sharks Are Awesome!
But why are sharks awesome, you may ask? Perhaps it’s just because they look so super badass and cool, or perhaps it’s because they are so ancient and mysterious, having survived Earth’s five mass extinctions, or perhaps because they are such intelligent, inquisitive creatures?
These are all things which we will discuss over the next 950+ words.
Sharks have been here for a really, really, really long time.
Sharks have lived in the oceans for nearly 450 million years, and those few extra million years of evolution have given many shark species the opportunity to develop their extraordinary abilities as perfect predators.
450 million years is a long time, even from an evolutionary standpoint. Life is thought to have begun on earth about 3.8 billion years ago, and the first fish appeared around 510 million years ago. Then the sharks came only 60 million years after that.
Many of us tend to think of dinosaurs as dominating the prehistoric world, but dinosaurs didn’t appear until about 230 million years ago. Sharks have existed three times longer than dinosaurs and 100 times longer than hominids like us.
Sharks are dangerous, right? Wrong!
More people are killed every year by falling coconuts in Asia alone than are killed by sharks around the world. But that’s not really a fair comparison, because coconuts can’t swim and sharks can’t climb trees. Nevertheless, thousands of people enter the ocean on a daily basis, often in places where there are sharks all the time, and only 30 to 50 shark attacks are reported each year, with only five or ten proving fatal.
Sharks don’t hunt humans..!!
When sharks do attack humans, it is a case of mistaken identity. Sharks can mistake humans for natural prey like seals and sea turtles, and they typically release the person after the first bite, so they obviously don’t like the way human tastes.
Sharks may not like the way humans taste, but some humans have a taste for shark
Shark fin soup is a delicacy in China and is served at special events, like weddings and anniversaries. When dried, the fins take on a texture and shape similar to noodles. According to tradition, longer noodles mean a longer life when you eat them. This soup may be delicious, but there is a downside. Shark finning leads to the slow, painful deaths of roughly 73 million sharks per year, which is not good.
Shark fin soup is typically prepared in a 3 to 4-quart saucepan with chicken stock, a shark’s fin, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Once this concoction is brought to a boil over high heat, the heat is reduced and is allowed to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. The cook then adds chicken and mushrooms and cooks the brew, stirring occasionally until the soup thickens.
Through the power or urination, sharks can live in fresh water
Most sharks live in saltwater, but how do river sharks survive in freshwater? For most shark species, spending a day in fresh water would be like putting a man on the moon without a spaceman suit. Most sharks could not survive due to the inhospitable surrounding environment, because their bodies would lose their saltiness due to this thing called osmosis; they would burst like a balloon.
But some sharks have solved this conundrum. Some of these bi-locational sharks like bull sharks can take in extra water and then urinate into the stream around them at a rate over 20 times faster than the average saltwater shark, equalizing to their environments. Still, very few sharks spend frequent amounts of time in freshwater.
Sharks must move to breathe!
Many shark species will drown if they stop moving. Great white, mako and salmon sharks don’t have the muscles they need to pump water through their mouth and over their gills. As long as they keep swimming, water keeps moving over their gills, keeping them alive and breathing.
There are some exceptions; lazy sharks like nurse and bullhead sharks that don’t like swimming too much can actively draw water into their mouths and over their gills, which allows them to breathe at rest.
Whalesharks are on Koh Tao!
Our favorite Koh Tao resident, the whaleshark, is the world’s biggest shark which is amazing. Adult whale sharks can grow up to 18 meters long and 21.5 tons heavy! That’s bigger than a really big school bus!
Whalesharks have big families, too. One whale shark can give birth to between two and twelve live shark pups in one litter, although she may stay with about 300 eggs! That’s twice as many offspring as any other shark.
Whale sharks have a lifespan similar to humans, often living 70 to 100 years. But they don’t reach sexual maturity until age 30, so they can’t reproduce any baby whale sharks for like 30 years!
This is a bit unfortunate in some cases, because fisherman catch sharks on such a large scale and so often that many whale sharks don’t ripen to sexual maturity to help repopulate their number.
However, there is still one place with a healthy whale shark population; the jewel of the Gulf of Siam, by the name of Koh Tao. Crystal Dive’s Wreck specialty student divers, diving HTMS Sattakut, sighted one just last week!
Weirdest Shark Facts (Speed Round)
- Tiger sharks are able to vomit out harmful debris by hurling their own stomachs out of their mouths and swallowing their stomachs back again.
- Sharks are the only fish without eyelids.
- Greenland sharks live up to 200 years.
- A shark can replace over 20,000 teeth in their lifetime.
- Some fetal sharks that are not even born yet will eat their siblings’ eggs while still in the womb! This may seem super weird, but they have to get the nutrients to sustain themselves in order to grow and survive.
- Pound for pound, the bull shark has the hardest bite.
- A new study shows that one single living reef shark has an estimated value to the tourist industry of 1.9 million bucks over its lifetime, so let’s protect the sharks and keep them sharkin’ around.
In conclusion to this informative piece of literature – Sharks Are Amazing!
Author: Jordan ‘Dingus’ Walden (PADI DM #377541)