Shark Facts & Fish Tales
5 Biggest Misconceptions About Sharks
Misconception #1: Sharks are basically all the same.
There are nearly 400 different species of shark and they are significantly diverse in terms of size, habitat, behavior, diet and morphology. Sharks range from about six inches long, such as the cigar shark species; up to about 45-feet long like the whale shark. More than 50% of sharks are 3 feet long or less; more than 80% are under 5 feet. Of the 400 different shark species, only 3 have been involved in a significant number of human fatalities.
Misconception #2: Sharks are indiscriminate eating machines; they eat anything.
The teeth often give clues as to what sharks eat Sharks with serrated edges on their teeth rip their prey, while sharks with pavement-like 5? teeth eat mollusks and crustaceans. Some sharks are “generalists” and eat whatever is at hand, but most species are rather selective. Sharks, in general, prefer specific types of prey & don’t deviate much from their standard diet.
For example, white sharks prefer during the winter months and to include fish, rays & other the spring. They also have extremely slow tracts; if they eat something less than optimal, it slows down their digestion for days, prohibiting them from eating other things. This makes them selective about what they eat- say shark experts.
Misconception #3: Great whites have poor vision and attack divers & surfers in wetsuits, mistaking them for pinnipeds (seals & sea lions). their main prey.
Sharks are well known for their sense of smell but they have an excellent visual system as well. Behind their retina is a reflective layer called the tapetum that magnifies light signals for night-active sharks that live in the deep. Scientists believe that sharks see as well below the surface, as humans do it. Great whites are one of the species of shark that are sharp-sighted and they even see in color. This shows they do not mistake humans for other prey. They are curious and investigative animals; so what most people don’t realize is that when a great white bites something unfamiliar to them, whether a person or a crab pot, they are looking for tactile evidence about what it is.
Think About it- if you observe a great white attacking a seal as compared to when they bite a human or an unfamiliar object, it further proves the point. When attacking what it thinks of prey, studies have shown that great whites would rocket to the surface and pulverize their prey with incredible force. On the other hand, these sharks usually humans and other objects with leisurely or undramatic behavior. That further shows it didn’t mistake it for prey and suggests that the shark’s action is not predation but merely curiosity!
Misconception #4: Shark attacks are common & your chances of getting attacked during water activities (like surfing & diving) are high.
The chances of being attacked by a shark are very slim, to say the least, For perspective – People are 250 times more likely to be killed by lightning than by a shark. It is true, that there are approximately 70-80 authenticated unprovoked shark attacks J a year. However, within the period of 1999 – 2009 an average of fewer than 5 people died from shark attacks, each year worldwide. When you consider the millions of people in the water and the number involved in water activities during that period, you will realize shark attacks are not as common as they are made out to be. Falling coconuts kill 150 people across the world each year, which is 15 times the number of fatalities attributable to sharks. Elephants too are bigger killers; they do in 200-plus mahouts & trainers per year. Dog bites kill thousands!
Misconception #5: Sharks are the biggest predators of the oceans & we should fear them.
In the past, sharks have killed worldwide: in 2005: 4 2006; 4 people; 2007: 1 person; 2008: 4 people. With these statistics, they are labeled the most feared and biggest predators of our Oceans. On the flip side, humans kill an estimated 73 million sharks a year, mainly through fishing. That translates to more than 8,333 killed every hour! As many as 100,000 die as a result of bycatch every year. Shark fining, however, is the most cruel practice that kills millions of sharks a year. So are we really the victims here? Or is is it safe to say Sharks aren’t the predators of the seas, but it’s us, humans? I’ll let you decide.