It’s the most wonderful time of the year! For shark and marine animal lovers, that is.
Sunday kicked off Discovery Channel’s much anticipated Shark Week, the network’s annual tribute to some of the ocean’s most mysterious – and misunderstood – creatures. Since it first aired in 1988, this week of programming is meant to promote conservation efforts educate viewers about misconceptions around sharks.
Celebrate the start of Shark Week by becoming a true shark advocate with Sharks! Global Biodiversity, Biology, and Conservation – the online course that teaches you all you need to know to help spread the shark love all year long, just not during shark week.
To tide you over the commercial breaks during the Shark Week shows, enjoy these seven true facts about the ocean’s top predators:
1. A shark’s nose is definitely one of its most prominent features, and their legendary sense of smell is the root of many sharks myths! Some sharks even have a keen enough senses to smell a single drop of blood in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
2. Speaking of the Olympics, Michael Phelps “raced” a Great White shark yesterday. Despite some help from a specially designed monofin and wetsuit, the computer generated shark beat out Phelps by two seconds. Great Whites are known to reach swimming speeds of up to 25 mph (40 kmh), so the outcome isn’t too surprising. However, were you similarly disappointed that he didn’t race a real shark?
3. Most sharks give birth to live young, or pups. And it’s not uncommon for some sharks to eat their brothers and sisters while in the womb, as shark pups from different fathers fight to be the ones that are born. Gives new meaning to sibling rivalry!
4. A fact to make all humans jealous, shark teeth are cavity resistant! Covered in fluoride, their teeth are resistant to acid produced by bacteria. This, combined with the fact that most sharks are consistently replacing their teeth throughout their lives, means that sharks have excellent dental health.
5. Great White, Bull, and Hammerhead are some of the most well-known sharks, but did you know that there are over 1,200 species of sharks and their relatives in the world?
6. Ever wonder how hammerhead sharks got such odd shaped heads? It’s not a trick of Mother Nature and, no surprise, has to do with hunting! The wide hammerhead allows for a broader spread of highly specialized sensory organs that the shark uses to find its prey. They also use their head to pin down their favorite dinner, a stingray!
7. Sharks have been around for about 450 million years – do the math and that means they were around even before dinosaurs roamed the planet. Scientists believe that sharks evolved the modern features we know today during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, about 200 million years ago.