Shark Facts

.)Like many animals, sharks have their own special behavior to warn other animals away. They arch their backs and lower their fins.

2.)On average, more people in the United States are killed by honeybees than by sharks worldwide.

3.)One hundred million years ago, sharks comprised 60 percent of all the ocean species; they are just three percent of the ocean's species today.

4.)In 25 years, a Grey shark can produce up to 20,000 teeth - which is why shark teeth are the world's most commonly collected animal artifact.

5.)Certain shark species bite with the force of 42,000 pounds per square inch - compared to the adult male human's bite of 150 pounds per square inch.

6.)Sharks have low "fecundity", which makes it harder for their populations to recover quickly when they're over-fished.

7.)Of the 350 known shark species, only a small percentage pose a hazard to humans.

8.)Every year, 1,500 to 2,000 sharks are found trapped and usually dead in the shark nets protecting the South African coast.

9.)At least eight known species of shark are endothermic, or warm blooded - controlling their temperature much as humans do.

Shark Attacks Rising

GAINESVILLE, Florida… The number of shark attacks on humans increased worldwide last year, apparently because people spent more time in the ocean, a University of Florida study released Wednesday said.

Study author Matthew Collahan said the number of unprovoked shark attacks world-wide soared from 36 in 1996 to 56 in 1997, although the number was considerably less than the all-time high of 72 in 1995. The United States had the largest number of attacks with 34, followed distantly by Australia with five attacks, Brazil with four, the Bahamas and South Africa with three each, and Japan and New Guinea with two each. One attack each was reported in Mexico, Fiji, North Africa, Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, and Vanuatu in the South Pacific.

Collahan said the number reflected the availability of sharks and the amount of time people spent in the water. He said the reason for the increase was unclear, but may have been partly related to warmer temperatures seen in the last year.

Surfers tend to be the most often targeted victims. Nearly half of all the attacks in 1997 involved surfers, wind surfers and rafters, according to the study. Other victims were swimmers, WADERS and divers.

Shark Behavior

Most sharks are solitary animals, though a few, such as the spiny dogfish and hammer head shark, form schools. Sharks may bite when provoked, but fewer than 30 species are considered dangerous, regardless of the situation. The two largest species, the whale and basking sharks, are harmless plankton feeders.

The so-called feeding frenzy, wherein sharks stimulated by the smell of blood feed ravenously and attack any object within reach, is one occasion when different species may be observed together. These feeding frenzies are infrequent. Some authorities doubt whether they occur naturally or only when provoked by humans who supply large quantities of food to attract sharks for studies on feeding behavior.

Sharks will attack humans at any time of day, in warm or cold water. Although most attacks are recorded during daylight hours in shallow warm waters accessible from a public beach, these statistics may simply reflect the fact that these are the conditions in which the greatest numbers of swimmers are found. The waters of coastal North America, South Africa, and the Caribbean and Mediterranean seas are the most frequent sites of shark attacks.

Large sharks, such as the great white, tiger, and bull sharks, that include human-sized prey in their diet are the most dangerous. Hammerhead, gray reef, lemon, dusky, blue, spinner, sand tiger, nurse, and Ganges River sharks will also attack humans.

Sharks will attack when they are hungry, but in most cases the reason for attack is unknown. Possible causes include territorial defense, mistaken identity for some other form of prey (this might explain why a shark often ceases its attack after one bite), chemical attractants such as blood in the water, and simply the movement, noises, and splashing of swimmers.
The sharks, along with their close relatives, the rays, belong to the class Chondrichthyes, or Selachii. The latter name is also used for an order that includes only the sharks.

Big Sharks!

Ralph White, a famous American marine expert has seen Pacific Sharks that are carnivorous that are larger than any Great Whites recorded. He accurately estimated one of the sharks to be at least 30 feet long. These sharks however were at 4,000 feet below the ocean and are not likely to ever be a threat to humans.

In 1918, a group of crayfisherman from the Nelson Bay area (Port Stevens) refused to go out to their fishing grounds. They all reported seeing a monster of a shark take their crayfish pots just off Broughton Island. Some of these pots were 3 feet (1 metre) across. They estimated the shark at 35 metres long. They reported its head to be as large " as the roof of the wharf shed at Nelsons Bay".These men were respected and seasoned fishermen who had seen large sharks and whales on numerous occasions but never anything like this.

There are also fossils of a prehistoric shark called a Megalodon (Carcharodon Megalodon)which is thought to have grown to about 45 - 50 foot long. It is also thought to be a close relative to the Great White Shark (Carcharodon Carcharias).It probably lived as far back as 50 million years. Teeth found from this shark are often as big as a mans hand.

Did you know?

Shoes, dogs, a driver's license, a cows hoof, the antler's of a deer, medieval armor and a chicken coop with feathers and bones still inside; all of these items have been recovered from the bellies of tiger sharks. Known as the garbage cans of the sea, tiger sharks are likely to eat anything they come accross.

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