15 Amazing Facts About Sharks

white Shark Swimming Under Water
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Did you know sharks have existed since the dinosaurs? They’re very old and have survived many tough times on Earth. Sharks are also extremely quick and smart, but they’re actually scared of only one thing: humans. Yes, we’re their only predators. From their amazing sense of smell and sight to their unique skin and even how they can sense electricity in the water, they have it all! Here are the amazing facts about sharks that you probably didn’t know.

Many Shark Species Are in Danger

a great white shark swimming in the ocean
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Did you know over 1,000 types of sharks and rays are swimming in our oceans? That’s a whole bunch! But here’s something alarming: experts say a whopping 75% of these species are in danger of disappearing forever. This is because these creatures take a long time to make babies, and they face lots of problems, like getting caught accidentally while fishing, losing their homes, and other dangers that mess up the ocean’s balance.

Sharks Are Tooth-Factory Experts

Whale shark swimming under crystal clear water of ocean near surface under sunlights
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Sharks are famous for their sharp teeth, but did you know they’re like tooth factories? A single shark can lose more than 30,000 teeth in its lifetime! Unlike humans, who only get one set of teeth that stick around, sharks are constantly replacing theirs. So, if a tooth falls out during a meal, no worries—another one quickly grows in its place.

Sharks Have Built-In Fluoride Protection

Whale shark swimming under crystal clear water of ocean near surface under sunlights
Photo by Lachlan Ross on Pexels

While dentists suggest using fluoride to shield our teeth from cavities, sharks don’t need to worry about brushing. Why? Well, it turns out their teeth come pre-coated with fluoride! This special layer keeps their teeth safe from decay, so they can focus on chomping down on their next meal without any worries about dental hygiene.

Female Sharks Rock Thick Skin

selective focus photography of shark
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When sharks mate, things can get super rough. Male sharks bite the female to get into position, and they have sharp spurs on their private parts to lock in place during mating. It might sound uncomfortable, but female sharks have found a way to deal with it: they’ve developed thicker skin to protect themselves from all the biting and locking.

Sand Tiger Shark Siblings Compete in the Womb

grey shark in blue water
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When a female sand tiger shark is expecting, something pretty intense happens inside her womb. The two biggest shark pups start gobbling up their smaller siblings before they’re even born. It might sound pretty extreme, but it’s a survival strategy called intrauterine cannibalism. This way, only the strongest pups make it out alive. Imagine that—siblings competing even before they’re born!

Sharks Sense Electricity

gray shark in fish tank
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Just like humans have dark pupils in their eyes, sharks have black spots, too, but theirs is way cooler! This spot helps them sense electricity and changes in water temperature. Plus, the top of a shark’s snout is packed with a special jelly that’s charged up. It helps them feel the heartbeat of their prey. It’s like they’ve got built-in sensors to hunt down their meals!

Sharks Keep It Mute

Great White Shark Swimming Underwater
Photo by Ben Phillips on Pexels

You might think sharks make scary sounds like in the movies, but guess what? They’re actually quiet! That’s because they don’t have vocal cords like dolphins, whales, or seals do. So, while those other marine animals might be chattering away, sharks are just silently cruising through the water, doing their thing. And since sharks can’t make any noise, they rely on body language to chat with each other.

Sharks Have Cartilage Skeletons

Dangerous shark with sharp teeth hunting in clean transparent water of vast blue ocean
Photo by Mile Ribeiro on Pexels

Did you know sharks are boneless wonders? Their skeletons are made of cartilage (the same bendy stuff that shapes your ears and nose tips). This is true for all sharks, from the fierce, great white to the gentle giant, the whale shark. But here’s the kicker: even though they lack bones, sharks can still fossilize! As they age, they beef up their cartilage skeletons with calcium salts, making them stronger like bones.

Sharks Have Sharp Eyes

great whale shark
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Ever wonder what the world looks like through a shark’s eyes? Well, sharks boast some seriously impressive eyesight—about ten times sharper than ours in clear waters. Their peepers are similar to ours, featuring a cornea, lens, retina, and even an iris that’s often a striking deep blue. And here’s the kicker: just like us, sharks have two types of light-sensitive cells in their eyes—rods and cones.

Blue Sharks Are Truly Blue

Close-Up Shot of a Shark
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The blue shark rocks a stunning blue hue on its back while its belly is snowy white. Other sharks like the mako and porbeagle also sport a bit of blue, but nothing quite as dazzling as the blue shark’s. In general, though, most sharks you’ll come across in the wild are more on the brown, olive, or gray side of the color spectrum.

Sharks’ Ages Are Written in Their Vertebrae Rings

a great white shark swimming in the ocean
Photo by Oleksandr Sushko on Unsplash

Inside a shark’s backbone, there are rings, like those found in tree trunks. Each ring is made up of a clear part and a dark part. Scientists count these ring pairs just like counting tree rings, and then they guess how old the shark is. For example, if there are ten ring pairs, they figure the shark is ten years old. But here’s the twist: recent studies found that this guess isn’t always right.

Some Female Sharks Can Go Solo

Man in Black Wetsuit Diving Near Shark
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Imagine if, after learning about how intense shark mating can be, a female shark decided she didn’t need a partner at all. Well, some female sharks can actually do just that! It’s called asexual reproduction or parthenogenesis. This means they can make babies all on their own – without a male shark involved. This superpower might come in handy, especially with the number of sharks in decline.

Some Sharks Have Quirky Names

gray shark decor
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Have you ever heard of the tasselled wobbegong? It sounds like something straight out of a quirky Ikea catalog, right? But it’s actually a type of shark. This funky shark earned the nickname “carpet shark” because its body looks like it’s covered in fringes that resemble coral. And get this—there are even more sharks with names that sound like they belong in a fantasy novel: goblin shark, megamouth shark, and Brazilian guitarfish.

Sharks Can Get Mesmerized

a great white shark with its mouth open in the water
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Did you know that when sharks are turned upside down, they can enter a trance-like state called tonic immobility? Some scientists use this trick to get a closer look at these fascinating creatures. According to the Shark Trust, gently flipping a shark over is believed to confuse them, sending them into this relaxed state. Their muscles loosen up, and they start breathing deeply and steadily.

Humans Outdo Sharks in the Killing Game

close-up of gray shark
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Let us debunk a common myth about sharks: you might have heard that sharks are more dangerous to humans than humans are to them. But the truth is far from that! Every year, only a small number of people worldwide are harmed by sharks. In contrast, humans are responsible for the deaths of an astonishing 75 to 100 million sharks annually. Many sharks face accidental capture in fishing gear or are intentionally hunted for their fins.