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10 fintastic facts about sharks

1. Sunbathers

Sharks like to swim near the surface of the water to get a tan because, it’s thought, darker skin gives them better camouflage. Plus it makes them look healthier and that little bit slimmer, you know?

2. Seal = meal

A great white shark that has taken a bite of a human will often spit them out. Particularly if the human has just eaten marmite.

Great white predator

Slow motion cameras capture the immense power and agility of a breaching great white.

3. It's safe to go into the water

In the US, more people die after falling into holes they’ve dug in the sand than are killed by shark attacks. And it’s way less heroic. (You are over 50,000 times more likely to drown than be killed by a shark.)

'For every person bitten by a shark, 25 get bitten by New Yorkers'

Chris Ledgard and Mark Carwardine discuss the myths surrounding Great White Sharks.

4. Little and large

The dwarf lanternshark is possibly the smallest shark in the world and could fit in the palm of your hand. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea reaching lengths of up 12m or more.

Whale shark feeding

The world's largest fish survives on the smallest organism... or does it?

5. Hawaiian gods

Sharks were seen as ancestral gods in traditional Hawaiian culture and it was thought deceased family members could be transformed into guardian sharks. Guardian sharks were feared because they could be sent to attack or kill enemies.

6. Hard to love

Shark’s ‘faces’ are commonly described as ‘blank and expressionless’.

Why are sharks so hard to like?

Naturalist Richard Kerridge says sharks' expressionless faces make them hard to like.

7. Conveyor belt of teeth

Over their lifetimes, sharks can develop as many as 25,000 teeth. Flossing is a nightmare.

Sharks have a 'conveyor belt of teeth'

Oliver Crimmen from the Natural History Museum describes the jaws of a great white shark.

8. Film stars

Ridley Scott’s Alien was pitched initially as ‘Jaws in space’.

Why was Jaws such a scary film?

Professor John Ó Maoilearca on the 'very effective' movie formula used in Jaws and Alien.

9. Keep on moving

Some shark species must continually swim to breathe. If they don’t they will suffocate. Other species can pump seawater over their gills by opening and closing their mouths which means they can sit on the seabed for long periods of time.

10. Brotherly love

Sand tiger sharks eat their siblings in the womb; a phenomenon known as embryonic cannibalism or embryophagy. When the first embryo in each uterus reaches a certain size it consumes all its siblings.

Sources: Radio 4 Natural Histories, BBC One Shark, Planet Earth and In Living Memory.


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