Last week, you may have tuned in to Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week which kicked off with a two-hour documentary titled, “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives”. The megalodon, a prehistoric shark from the Miocene era, could grow more than 50 feet long and dwarf even the largest great white shark swimming in today’s ocean. Unfortunately, Discovery Channel’s megalodon documentary was more of a mockumentary in the sense that its scientist were really actors and the 67 foot long megalodon they were chasing (nicknamed Submarine) was not really terrorizing folks off the coast of South Africa because megalodons haven’t existed for millions of years.
This year’s Shark Week has sparked a bit of controversy with its Reality TV feel. So if you’ve been wanting more bite for your buck, keep reading to learn some little known facts about sharks.
- Sharks don’t hunt humans. Sharks are highly-specialized predators whose feeding strategies evolved long before humans entered the water. With over 350 shark species around today, fewer than 10 are considered dangerous to humans.
- Sharks can detect electrical fields. Special organs in their snouts enable them to pick up electrical pulses emitted from the muscle movements or beating hearts of potential prey.
- Female sharks can impregnate themselves. Through a form of asexual reproduction called parthenogenesis, shark embryos can grow and develop without fertilization.
- Sharks rarely get sick. Shark tissues have anticoagulant and antibacterial properties which scientists are studying in the hopes of discovering treatments for various medical conditions, including cystic fibrosis and forms of cancer.
- Humans are a shark’s most dangerous predator. Scientists have estimated that for every 1 human killed by a shark, there are 25 million sharks killed by humans.
An alarming number of sharks are killed every hour due to the gruesome act of shark finning and the harmful effects of bycatching in fishing equipment. The shark is a vital ocean predator that plays a huge part in balancing our delicate marine ecosystem. Learn how you can stop shark finning and get involved in shark conservation efforts.