The Sharks are Here!

Shark lovers rejoice! The annual Shark Week presented by the Discovery Channel is set to premiere this Sunday, July 28th. If you want shark action now, then you should tune into Nat Geo Wild, the National Geographic’s channel dedicated to wildlife and their habitats. Their 6th year of SharkFest started on July 14th and lasts until August 2nd! While these channels might be in competition with each other, it’s really us (the viewers) who end up on top with twice the selection of shows to binge.

Let’s celebrate sharks by highlight 5 of the coolest and strangest sharks around.

Whale Shark

IUCN Status: Endangered

We can’t have a list of the coolest sharks around without the largest fish on the planet, the Whale Shark. Unlike many of their cousins, these sharks only feed on small prey like krill (shrimp-like animals). They use their big mouths to filter the water as they swim and collect as many tasty treats as they can. These gentle sharks can be found in warm, tropical waters around the world.

Fun Fact✨: The spotted pattern that whale sharks have are unique to each individual, just like fingerprints.

Great White Shark

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

What to say about the most iconic shark in existence? Well let’s just state facts here and be clear: they are not heartless, soulless, killing machines. Are they good at killing? Yes. However, they are also very inquisitive. They’ve been observed many times poking their heads above the surface of the ocean to take a look around. While they might be fearsome because of their great strength and agility, they are much more complex than you might believe.

Fun Fact✨: Great Whites are one of the few fish that can warm their own blood.

Epaulette Shark

IUCN Status: Least Concern

These coral reef-dwelling sharks might be known for their epaulettes (the large black spots, ringed in white on their shoulders-- similar to military epaulettes), but they have an even cooler trick up their sleeves… they can walk! While perusing tide pools looking for lunch, these sharks will use their fins to crawl around. They are even known to do this on land (sometimes they get stranded in the tide pools).

Fun Fact✨: While we aren’t 100% sure, it is thought that those 2 large spots act as eye spots and discourage larger predators from pursuing them.

Megamouth Shark

IUCN Status: Least Concern

So when I saw this shark, I just stared. Like ummmm…. Should it look like that? But I guess so! That big head and mouth really makes this shark look like a cartoon character, don’t you think? Those large gums are lined in tiny teeth that create a not so familiar smile. The sharks are related to the more widely known Whale Shark and likewise filter feed for krill in the open ocean. They’ve been encountered in a wide variety of areas globally, even though it isn’t often.

Fun Fact✨: The Megamouth Shark was first documented in 1976 near the Hawaiian Islands.

Photo Credit: OpenCage CC BY 2.5

Goblin Shark

IUCN Status: Least Concern

This may not be the prettiest shark in the sea, but it is among the strangest. This odd-looking shark can be found in the depths off the coasts of Japan, southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand. In addition to its pinkish gray coloring, it also has a jaw that it can shoot out of its mouth Alien-style. It uses this technique to catch small marine animals like fish and crustaceans. The rarity of this shark means that the chance of human-shark conflict is pretty low.

Fun Fact ✨: Only 45 Goblin Sharks have been described in scientific literature.

While it is fun to see a few of the many forms sharks come in, we must remember that sharks across the board have been subject to population decline. If you’d like to support shark conservation, please consider making a donation to organizations such as WildAid, Shark Trust or Conservation International.

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