It’s no surprisethat the first thing we all think of when someone says the word shark is the classic Steven Spielberg film Jaws. Its resonating swimming soundtrack became the anthem for these underwater giants. But with summer’s arrival and the rush to the beaches, it’s time to put the myth of the scary sharks behind us and take a look at just how cool they really are.
Here’s a list of 10 reasons why these ocean dinosaurs should be celebrated rather than feared.
What can be cooler than having been in existence since way before dinosaurs even roamed the Earth?! Not much, that’s for sure.
Sharks have been around for more than 400 million years, discovering corners of the world’s oceans before we even knew what an ocean was – before we were even here, in fact. The longevity of sharks is partly the reason why their characteristics are so developed, because they’ve had a few extra million years to perfect their predatory and survival game. These creatures’ evolution is something to be admired.
Measuring over 40 feet long, the whale shark is the largest fish currently in our oceans. To put that into perspective, it’s roughly the same size as a bus. If you think that’s big, then wait until you learn about the megalodon shark.
The megalodon was the largest fish to ever swim in our oceans. It measured over 60 feet long and its teeth were a staggering 7 inches in length each. This species of shark went extinct 2.6 million years ago, but scientists and divers are still looking in the depths of the oceans for any further ‘megateeth’ to help us dive further into the history of this amazing creature.
Sharks come in all shapes and sizes, and the smallest shark is the dwarf lanternshark, which measures a tiny 6 inches. If that’s not cute then we don’t know what is! To go a splash further, why not try swimming with sharks to measure yourself alongside them?
Not just famous in our oceans, they’re famous on our screens too! We’ve thought of five Hollywood sharks that have become some of our favourite characters.
Lenny - Shark Tale
Son of shark-mobster Don Lino, Lenny is a friendly, vegetarian, great white shark. Softly spoken with a heart of gold, Lenny quickly befriends smaller fishes Oscar and Angie, teaching us all not to judge by appearances.
Bruce - Finding Nemo
Our favourite Australian ocean resident, Bruce tries to change his outlook on sea life with his motto: “Fish are friends, not food.” It is clear Bruce struggles with this concept, and his wide-toothy grin is something Marlin and Dory certainly won’t forget. But we applaud Bruce for trying to change his ways.
Bruce - Jaws
Nicknamed Bruce, but unlike Finding Nemo’s Bruce his goal is definitely not to be a vegetarian. The symbol of underwater fear and possibly one of the scariest movie characters ever, this Hollywood shark certainly knew how to make a splash.
Sharpedo - Pokemon
This famous yellow-striped shark can swim at 80 miles per hour, and its razor-sharp teeth can grow back immediately. Definitely not a shark to mess with.
Laser Sharks - Austin Powers
All this baddie wanted was sharks with laser beams attached to their heads. Dr Evil had to wait until the third movie, where his equally evil son finally delivered his wish.
Sharks have many traits and characteristics, which make them wonderful creatures to learn about. Sharks can regrow their teeth and use at least 20,000 teeth in their lifetime. If regrowing teeth isn’t enough, some of them have 360-degree vision. This means no spot in the ocean goes unseen by these all-seeing sharks – except for two blind-spots: one right behind the head, and one right in front of the snout.
One of the coolest characteristics is that of the lantern shark. As its name suggests, it can glow in the dark and help disguise itself. So what happens if we put all of these traits together? We have an (almost) all-seeing fish, with regrowing teeth, that can glow in the dark. Now that’s impressive!
They don’t just act and look cool, they’re even named cool things. Here’s a list of some of the best shark names:
Spiny dogfish shark
The list can go on! Our favourite is the Cookiecutter – what’s yours?
Many people are surprised at how far sharks actually travel and migrate around the various oceans. Many sharks have to keep moving in order to breathe, so it’s no shock that these ocean giants clock up some serious miles. Tiger sharks have been tracked to travel nearly 5,000 miles each year in a round-trip – from winter in the Caribbean, to summer in the North Atlantic waters. No matter what people may think about sharks, they’re definitely not in the ‘lazy fish’ category!
The importance of sharks in our oceans is often overlooked. They are top of the food chain and therefore play a significant role in keeping the populations of other fish healthy and in correct proportion for their ecosystem. Sharks also aid in keeping the carbon-cycle moving throughout the ocean, due to eating the dead matter that congregates along the sea beds. Here at SEA LIFE Blackpool, we understand how important sharks are to ocean life, so we try our best to support these ocean wonders with our conservation efforts.
Sharks have a sixth sense that enables them to detect electricity. They have extremely developed electroreception skills, which allows them to interpret electric fields that are emitted by other fish. This is a great skill for predators such as sharks, because it means they are able to hunt their prey without seeing them, due to gravitating towards electric waves throughout the ocean.
Thanks to their evolution history, sharks have built up an incredible immune system to make sure they’re always healthy. A compound found in dogfish sharks called ‘squalamine’ has been shown to combat several viruses. Squalamine disrupts the virus’s life-cycle by preventing it from replicating in the shark’s body tissue. Scientists have spoken of how there is no other compound like this and is probably the reason for these fascinating creatures’ evolutionary success.
The coolest thing about sharks is that there’s always something new to learn. These fascinating creatures are full of fin-tastic facts. To help you get a real sense of shark wonder, here are our top five shark facts:
The list of reasons why sharks are cool could have gone on and on, so if you want to find out more about why these underwater creatures are amazing, how about trying one of our shark experiences? Or if you can think of any other famous sharks on our TV screens, tweet us @SEALIFEcentre or drop us a Facebook message.