Top 100 Shark Facts

  • Between 30 and 80 percent of a shark's flesh is made of water. A protein network gives the flesh its structure
  • 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
  • Shark teeth are popular and often inexpensive beach souvenirs. Sharks shed their teeth constantly; an occurrence from which humans benefit
  • Of the roughly 50 shark attacks reported each year, only 10% prove to be fatal. So while an attack is rare, dying from one is even rarer
  • 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
  • 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
  • Certain shark species (such as great white) will drown if they stop moving. They lack necessary muscles to pump water through their mouth
  • Overfishing has dangerous effects on sharks such as the whale shark, who has to reach 30 years of age before it can reproduce #sharkweek
  • 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
  • Sharks' livers contain lots of oil. This makes the liver a relatively buoyant organ, which helps sharks keep their balance in the water
  • Although heavily fictionalized, Jaws was based on a real attack in 1916, when 4 people were killed by a shark off the New Jersey coastline
  • A common shark myth is that they don't attack in the middle of the day, coincidentally when most beach-goers leave the water to eat lunch
  • 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
  • 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
  • While more likely to die from drowning, surfers can succumb to shark attacks because of their boards, which to great whites resemble seals
  • Almost all sharks like to do their hunting solo, but scalloped hammerhead sharks prefer to travel in schools during their summer migration
  • Tiger, great white, and bull sharks perpetrate most attacks on humans. They hunt human-sized prey and are capable of inflicting fatal bites
  • 20% of sharks are close to extinction because of commercial fisheries accidentally catching sharks with their hooks and nets #sharkweek
  • 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
  • Sharks that eat their siblings' eggs in the womb are not vicious. They are just seeking nutrients for sustaining their own growth #sharkweek
  • Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island were inspirations for the fictional town of Amity Island in Steven Spielberg's 1975 thriller Jaws
  • Jaws may have caused a decline in beach attendance in the 1970s, even though great white sharks are fairly uncommon in northeastern waters
  • 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 #sharkweek
  • 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 #sharkweek
  • Most shark species can be found in open water, allowing them plenty of space to swim and an abundance of fish to eat #sharkweek
  • The goblin shark lives along outer continental shelves and underwater mountain ranges. Their dwellings are too deep for human exploration
  • For tiger shark moms-to-be, two different uteri are the key to giving birth to multiple pups #sharkweek
  • 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
  • Blue sharks are among the most threatened shark species in the world. Overfishing and trade in fins have caused the population to decline
  • Until recently, sharks were thought to be immune to cancer, but the latest scientific research proves otherwise #sharkweek
  • Most shark attacks on humans occur within a few hundred yards of shore, because that is where people are most likely to be #sharkweek
  • 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)
  • SPOT records sharks' activities and transmits data to a satellite. Pop-Up Archival Tags (PAT) record details of the sharks' environments
  • The frilled shark's circular mouth, filled with more than 300 spiny teeth, earns it the nickname of the modern Loch Ness Monster #sharkweek
  • Most sharks live in saltwater, so how do river sharks survive in freshwater? They absorb extra water then urinate into streams around them
  • Shark fin soup is a delicacy in China and is served at important events like weddings and anniversaries. The dried fins resemble noodles
  • 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
  • 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
  • Exactly how a shark comes into the world depends on its species. Horn sharks, for example, hatch from egg cases called "mermaid's purses"
  • You'd need much more than a "bigger boat" to track down the shark responsible for an attack. Sharks can travel hundreds of miles in a day
  • Despite rumors to the contrary, shark cartilage doesn't reduce the growth of tumors in humans, and can have negative side effects #sharkweek
  • You may think of sharks as ravenous, man-eating sea terrorists, but only 20 of the 350+ shark species are known to attack humans #sharkweek
  • Shark attacks occur near California because U.S. Govt protection of sea mammals has increased their populations, creating more shark food
  • While many of us have learned to fear sharks, they are the ones who should fear us. Humans kill 73 million sharks annually #sharkweek
  • Sound waves travel fast and far in water, so sharks have no trouble picking up low-pitched noises from movements such schools of fish
  • Humans are the #1 predator of sharks, but killer whales, crocodiles, and seals have been known to eat them as well #sharkweek
  • Large sharks have been known to target smaller, younger sharks that serve as easily attainable prey #sharkweek
  • Even though sharks have razor-sharp teeth, they don't use them for chewing prey. They are for ripping; resulting chunks are swallowed whole
  • Sharks aren't color blind. Divers have claimed that sharks are attracted to certain colors, such as the "yummy yellow" of some wetsuits
  • While color preference is debatable, scientists know that some sharks have developed cones like the ones humans use to distinguish colors
  • The prehistoric shark Megalodon probably grew to 60 feet (18 meters), and it is popularized today as the largest shark ever #sharkweek
  • Galeophobia is the excessive fear of sharks. It comes from the Greek word "galeos", which was a particular type of shark #sharkweek
  • Be glad you're not a shark, moms! The gestation period for a pregnant female shark can range from five months to two years #sharkweek
  • Be glad you're not a shark, moms! The gestation period for a pregnant female shark can range from five months to two years #sharkweek
  • Sharks can generate up to 40,000 pounds per square inch of pressure in a single bite. That's easily enough to chomp off a limb #sharkweek
  • Swimming in cold water boosts the odds of surviving a shark attack. Cold water drops your body temperature, which will slow your blood loss
  • Sharks' sightlines span nearly 360 degrees. They have only two blind spots: one in front of the snout and the other directly behind the head
  • Hammerhead sharks are nomadic, travel from Florida coasts to polar regions and adapt to different temperatures through aquatic globetrotting
  • There are at least 350 shark species in the world's oceans today. They vary in shape, but have similar characteristics such as large livers
  • Some female sharks use sperm from multiple males to reproduce, making the pups half-siblings, even though they're born at the same time
  • Angel sharks, also known as sand devils, dig themselves into piles of sand and wait for unsuspecting fish to pass by before attacking
  • 6 years before Steven Spielberg's Jaws, Burt Reynolds starred in Shark. Real sharks were used in filming, and a stuntman was actually killed
  • Whale sharks are much larger than the average shark, but are friendly filter feeders, using their rows of teeth to eat plankton, not humans
  • A shark's size relates to where it hunts: smaller sharks feed near the ocean floor, while larger sharks hunt in the middle ocean depths
  • Some sharks start working before they're even born, chewing their way out of their egg to enter the open ocean
  • The Aztecs attached strings of chili peppers to their canoes to keep sharks away, a practice that modern day scientists doubt was effective
  • The Aztecs had a mastery over sharks. In 1978, archaeologists uncovered remnants of shark bodies under the ruins of the Aztec Great Temple
  • Recreational shark fishing wasn't popular until the 1975 premiere of Jaws, after which people wanted to snag a "man-eating" great white
  • Recreational shark fishing wasn't popular until the 1975 premiere of Jaws, after which people wanted to snag a "man-eating" great white
  • Blue sharks are piggy eaters. They'll keep eating until they regurgitate, after which they go back to eating!
  • Electroreception allows sharks to notice changes in saltwater electricity conduction. Blood changes conductivity and sharks can smell it
  • Sharks hunt for food, not for sport, but follow the same habits as serial killers do, stalking their unsuspecting victims until death
  • Electroreception allows sharks to notice changes in saltwater electricity conduction. Blood changes conductivity and sharks can smell it
  • A great white shark rolls its eyes into the back of its head when it attacks to protect its eyes from debris and the thrashing of its prey
  • Magnets in the water can interfere with a shark's electroreception, but sharks have to get very close to magnets before they're affected
  • Sharks whip their prey around in order to break off chunks of meat, so if bitten, latch on to the shark if you want to save your limb
  • Kazim Doku designed a car modeled a shark body. It's a hovercraft that won Audi and Milan's Domus Academy's 2008 Desire Design Competition
  • Sharks can use heartbeats to track their prey. They have electricity-sensing nodules on their noses called ampullae of Lorenzini #sharkweek
  • You can't see a shark's ears, but their inner ears can track sounds of their prey from lengths of more than 800 feet (244 meters) #sharkweek
  • Signs that a circling shark will attack: it will hunch its back, lower its pectoral fins (fins near its belly) and swim in zigzag motions
  • Unlike humans, whose upper jaw is a fixed part of the skull, sharks can dislocate and protrude their upper jaw to grab and hang onto prey
  • Sharks have always had a bad rap. Ancient Greek historian Herodotus claimed that sharks destroyed a Persian fleet in the 5th century B.C.E.
  • Sharks have an astounding sense of smell, so powerful that they can detect a single drop of blood in an Olympic-sized pool
  • Different sharks have different etiquette for feeding. Caribbean reef sharks, for example, have a pecking order catering to large sharks 1st
  • Sharks can see in murky water because of a membrane called the tapetum lucidum that makes their eyes more sensitive to light #sharkweek
  • Volusia County, FL has had more shark attacks than anywhere else in the world (210 attacks since 1882) #sharkweek
  • Great white sharks are picky eaters, and can determine after one bite whether or not the meal will satisfy its nutritional needs #sharkweek
  • The megamouth shark wasn't discovered by scientists until 1976, and there have only been 41 known sightings of the species #sharkweek
  • Through lateral line organs, sharks can feel waves of pressure with the sensitivity of a physical touch and detect the movement of an object
  • Not all sharks are identifiable as predators, especially the cookiecutter shark, which can camouflage itself using its glowing underside
  • Pygmy sharks are among the tiniest in the world. They measure an average of 8 inches (20 centimeters) in length and can make their own light
  • Sharks move like airplanes. They create forward movement with their tails (like propellers) and water moves over their fins like wings
  • Researchers have discovered common objects (tires, gasoline tanks, and license plates) left intact inside the stomachs of tiger sharks
  • Researchers have discovered common objects (tires, gasoline tanks, and license plates) left intact inside the stomachs of tiger sharks
  • Sharks use geographic profiling, which pinpoints locations where attacks are likely to happen such as fish travel routes, reefs and channels
  • Hammerhead sharks' oddly shaped heads, called cephalofoils, are equipped with electrical sensors, making them superior hunters #sharkweek
  • Sharks are susceptible to the moon's control of ocean tides. Moon phases affect sharks' eating habits and draw them closer to shore
  • Modern sharks breathe by ram ventilation, a method that forces water into their mouths and then processes it as they swim forward #sharkweek
  • When the USS Indianapolis was attacked by a shark during World War II, 900 sailors were stranded in the Philippine Sea near Guam for 4 days
  • When the USS Indianapolis was attacked by a shark during World War II, 900 sailors were stranded in the Philippine Sea near Guam for 4 days
  • A shark's tooth-shaped scales, called denticles, allow it to move swiftly through the water without collecting barnacles and algae deposits
  • When some shark embryos develop teeth, they eat their unborn siblings until one shark remains. This is known as intrauterine cannibalism
  • Sharks respond to a sound known as a "yummy hum". It's an infrasonic sound that injured fish make, drawing sharks to an easy meal #sharkweek
  • Almost 50 different shark species have light-emitting organs called photospheres. Sharks use their light for camouflage and to attract mates
  • Every once in a while, a female shark can reproduce without any contact from a male. This act is known as parthenogenesis #sharkweek
  • Sharks can heat their eyes using a special organ next to a muscle in their eye socket, allowing them to continue hunting in frigid waters
  • Great white sharks off the coast of Seal Island, Africa are known to jump 10 feet (3 meters) in the air for unsuspecting seals #sharkweek
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