Shark Facts and Figures

bowmouth shark

  • Wasps kill more people than sharks causing 100 deaths every year, versus less than 20 fatalities from shark attacks. Falling coconuts are even more deadly, claiming 150 lives annually.

  • Toasters, chairs and domestic dogs all kill far more people every year than sharks. (Toasters and chairs each kill around 600 – 700 people a year. Dogs – kill approx 50 people a year in the US alone.)

  • You are 1,000 more likely to drown at sea than to be bitten by a shark.

  • Baby sharks are called pups.

  • Most sharks give birth to live young, but some release eggs that hatch later.

  • Sharks have existed for over 400 million years – long before dinosaurs even existed.

  • There are over 450 species of sharks and they come in many shapes, sizes and colours.

  • All sharks, including the Blacktip Reef Sharks at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, have a highly developed sense of smell. Some sharks can detect one drop of blood in 100 gallons of sea water from an injured fish over a kilometre away.

  • Sharks also have excellent night vision and the ability to use electromagnetic impulses to navigate their way through the ocean and earth’s magnetic fields.

  • Blacktip Reef Sharks are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because their growth and reproduction is slow. They only reproduce every couple of years rather than every year like others members of the shark species.

  • All sharks are negatively buoyant which means that if they stop swimming they will sink to the bottom of the sea.

  • Like many other shark species, Blacktip Reef Sharks cannot stop swimming or they are unable to breathe. This is because they need to keep moving in order to keep water running over their gills from which they extract oxygen. If they stop swimming and water stops passing through their gills it’s a bit like holding their breath!

  • However some other shark species, like the Nurse Sharks you can see at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, are able to actively pump water through their gills meaning that they can still breath even if they are sitting on the bottom having a rest!

  • Sharks are cartilaginous fish, which means they don’t have a bony skeleton but their skeletons are formed of cartilage. We have cartilage in our bodies too… if you wiggle the tops of your ears or the tip of your nose, that bendy stuff inside is cartilage!

  • The Blacktip Reef Shark is one of the three most common sharks inhabiting coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific.

  • Fast-swimming and active, the Blacktip Reef Shark may be encountered alone or in small groups, however large "social" groups have also been observed.

Why are Sharks important?

SEA LIFE London Aquarium - Shark Ecology

How do they help the sea?

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