I can’t swim in the ocean.
And I can definitely trace this back to one ill-fated viewing of a special on Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. A lot of grey shapes sneaking along the coast of California beach caught on camera from an aerial view…
I was done.
Beaches, sun shining, sand playing with your toes – it’s all gravy until it goes from someone taking a bite out of their ocean-side grilled burger to having a bite taken out of them by a sharp-toothed, finned water creature. Unwarrantedly paranoid? Maybe. All limbs currently intact? Yes.
Shark Week is a staple of summer that always seems to sneak up on you (like a shark would, naturally). These special shows manage to illicit a range emotions drawing on awe, intrigue, horror, fear and wonder. There’s an unnatural parallel in the way my Stumble stream manages to surprise me as does the knowledge and stories I take in about sharks.
As an ode to this eerie species, here are some facts I’ve Stumbled to impress your fellow Shark Week watchers and beyond.
- Sharks are classified as cartilaginous fish, having no bones and skeletons only made of cartilage. They also lack the swim bladder many fish use to swim properly. Check out this list of 94 different types of sharks to learn some individual factoids about them (though there are about 440 species total!).
- Shark species are differentiated by their various tail shapes. Among them, thresher sharks have tails half their body length, slower sharks have asymmetrical tails and fast sharks have symmetrical tail lobes.
- Sharks have been in existence since BEFORE dinosaurs. Yes, BEFORE DINOSAURS. That makes this animal over 400 million years old!
- Sharks range in size with smaller sharks such as the 6 inch dwarf lanternshark to 40 foot whale sharks that can be close to 80,000 pounds.
- Random fact: According to this Stumble article on Newser, a blacktip shark was able to reproduce asexually, without a partner, producing a baby shark genetically made solely from its mother.
- Sharks are the only species in the world that produce fully mature offspring, as their babies are miniature versions of their parents. They are born with the ability to swim and a full set of teeth.
- Shark Week is put together and hosted by the Discovery Channel. Awesomely enough I Stumbled on the fact that with their broadcasting they also support several organizations dedicated to protecting sharks: Oceana, the Pew Environment Group and Shark Savers.
- It’s estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year by humans from fishing. The average number of worldwide human deaths from unprovoked shark attacks was 4.3 from 2001 to 2006. With continuous deaths and a slow reproduction rate, sharks are becomingly increasingly endangered and won’t be able to recover.
- I guess sharks may not be as scary as they seem if this surfer feels comfortable to paddle out and catch footage of great white sharks circling his board… Unbelievable!
- Many sharks are are caught, their fins cut off, and then tossed alive back into the ocean – a practice known as shark finning. Their fins are used in Chinese medicine as well as soup, adding no real taste and is mainly for texture and a novelty. Shark finning contributes 73+ million shark deaths a year.
- Probably one of the creepier looking sharks is the Sand Tiger Shark, which I was surprised to learn are a non-aggressive species (with a mug like that though, I’ll still keep my distance). They spend their time in shallow, warm waters close to shore (warning sirens are going off..) and are the only sharks that surface to take in air.
- I may not speak the language of the running the commentary in this video clip Stumble, but these Goblin Sharks also give me my fair share of heebeegeebees (yet, can’t.. look.. away..).
From Shark Week specials on first-encounter stories, biology lessons, and top 10 most deadliest shark types, humans have almost as bizarre a fascination with this animal as they do with us.
Can’t get enough of sharks and still need your daily fix? The Georgia Aquarium has a Shark Cam available through August 2012. They are even having Q&A sessions with divers and daily shark feedings through the end of Shark Week 2012! Enjoy and stay safe out there Stumblers!