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Sharks

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Sharks One of the most feared predators of the ocean are the sharks, with more than 465 known species of sharks living in our ocean today. They are very popular animals with movies such as Jaws and Deep Blue Sea, these animals are also dedicated a whole week on animal planet they are often categorized as monstrous savages who just attack any and everything. In fact that isn’t a true reputation of them. These animals are survivors and have been around for a long time. These fascinating creatures have caught the eye and imagination of so many people as well as me. There are many things I want to cover over today just to give a better understanding and idea of sharks.
Sharks are very smart creatures so its no surprise to learn they have plenty of ways in effective forms of communication. Eventhough sharks are generally loners, so they aren’t in groups. This makes it harder for scientist to observe how they actually communicate with each other than with other animals that live in the water. They have an amazing sense of hearing which is believed most likely to be how they communicate majority of the time. They can hear sounds at very low frequencies so a great part of it won’t even be picked up during the test observations. Sharks also use their hearing to allow them to pick up vibrations and electrical currents from other sharks in the water with them. Most of the communication among sharks involves aggression. They will fight each other not for territory but for food. For instance One shark may kill something but many other sharks are going to try and get a piece of it. Between two sharks most of the time it ends up being a battle to see who can keep control of the prey. This is why most sharks won’t kill something larger than they are so they can quickly swallow its kill unless they have no other choice. The way in which a shark displays their body has alot to do with communication. They may use these non-verbal signs more than they use any types of sounds. It is believed that they send out vibrations to each other with the way in which they swim and other types of body movements. Humans can’t hear these types of communication though so it is very difficult for them to get an idea of what they really mean. Scientist are working to fix that but we still may never know.
As stated earlier there are close to 500 different types of sharks in the ocean some big some small. The most popular shark is the Great White shark which is one of the most feared in the world. It is no secret that this is a very aggressive species of shark. They are well known for attacking humans as well. So it is understandable why those who be in the open water find them to be a huge threat. Although, most people who are attacked by a great white shark do survive, therefore it is believed that they feel threatened by the person and only attacks in order to protect themselves.
Tiger sharks (another type) are very large and so they require a great amount of wide open space. They enjoy warm water so they are found in the tropic areas of the world as well as some sub tropic locations. The Atlantic Ocean is where most of them have been recognized. Tiger sharks have been recorded with the most attacks on humans only behind the great white. They are very aggressive by nature and will stop at nothing to complete a hunt for food. They will attack when they feel they are in danger which is why they are known to attack humans. They can grow to be about 14-20 feet in length with an average of 12 feet. They can vary in weight from 850 pounds to approximately 1,400 pounds. It gets its name due to the stripes found on it that resemble those on a tiger.
The Whale Shark is the biggest of all the shark species. Adults are at least 25 feet long and they can be up to 32 feet in length. They can also weigh up to 20,000 pounds which is unbelievable. While it isn’t uncommon for sharks to have rows of teeth, the whale shark has an a lot of them. They can have between 300 and 350 rows of teeth at a time, which would be bad if they attacked humans. People who come into contact with them their first instinct is to swim away as quickly as it can even with the size of it though the whale shark doesn’t pose a threat to humans. One of the most recognizable sharks in the ocean is the Hammerhead Shark. A lot of people find the hammerhead shark to be one of the most fascinating animals in the world. The very unique and different look it offers definitely gets it noticed. The hammerhead shark is one species of shark that doesn’t get confused with any other out there. Since most hammerhead sharks are harmless to humans they aren’t feared either like so many of them are in the waters. There are nine separate species of hammerhead sharks out there and only three species can be dangerous to humans. The shape of their head allows them to be able to find prey easier. Since their eyes are set apart they can see what is going on in various directions better than other species of sharks.
Those sharks are all well-known based off physical attributes as well as being seen often in aquariums and zoos but there are some sharks that aren’t as known or seen. The Megamouth shark is considered to be one of the most rare forms of sharks out there. They aren’t often seen by people and that can lead one to wonder if they have decent numbers or not. Only 54 of them have been seen and documented with only 3 of them captured on film. The Megamouth shark is one you probably won’t ever see when you are in the water. It is rarely seen and it has only been in the past 30 years that it has even been recognized as a species of shark. The first one was spotted around Hawaii. They have also been spotted around Japan in recent years. Other sightings have taken place in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans though so they are out there. Since they are so rarely seen it isn’t uncommon for thrill seekers to do their best to find them. They know pictures of them as well as videos will be worth a great deal of money to researchers. There isn’t any information relating to how they interact with humans though so you need to be careful.
Sharks have evolved over time and based on the studies done by experts, sharks have been on Earth for more than 450 million years. Over that span of time they have evolved in a variety of ways in order to make the environment that they have access to one that can work for them. The way in which we know them today is believed to be the results of evolution that took place about 100 million years ago. Of course not all of the sharks that once were on Earth are available today. There are records from early fossils to indicate that at least half of them have become extinct. We have just over 1,000 species of sharks remaining today. However, just as many if not more of them have already been eliminated and we will never get to see them on Earth again. Many of the early forms of sharks were really small. There is evidence to suggest they looked more like fish. Many of them were similar to eels as well. Their faces featured noses that were round rather than pointed. They also didn’t have a brain as large as it is today. That is a very important point to make though. More than 2/3 of the size of a brain today for a shark is for the senses, mainly their ability to smell. This is one of the areas where sharks have significantly been able to evolve and to become a more intelligent species. Their teeth were also quite different than they are today. Instead of being razor sharp they were smooth. However, these early ancestors definitely had the rows of teeth that were replaced like they do today. This could indicate that early sharks fed upon plants in the water instead of being meat eaters as we know them today. This could be an indication that something occurred that made it impossible for plant life to grow for a while. In order to survive they started to consume other living creatures in the water. Are sharks going to be able to successfully continue to evolve? That is a concern for many experts. They fear that humans have taken over too much of the control so sharks will find it difficult to continue to evolve for survive. This would explain why many of the species are in danger of becoming extinct. Only time will tell though if sharks are able to continue being successful when it comes to their survival skills. They have certainly done an amazing job of it in the past.
Hollywood blockbusters such as ‘JAWS’ and many others leave us with visuals of huge sharks plunging from the water, open-mouthed and lined with razor-sharp teeth, killing anything in their sight. Fabricated stories such as these have left us with an unrealistic fear of sharks; however these remarkable animals warrant a closer look. In Oliver Duff’s article, he gives the example of a time when he was snorkeling in the Bahamas and a bull shark appeared before him. He said, “I stuck it out for as long as I dared, then, trying to avoid panicked splashing, I kicked for the boat, not taking my eyes off him. You don't want to mess around with a bull (Oliver Duff).” He then went on to tell the reader to turn off the spine-tingling music that we hear in the movies and forget everything you thought you knew about this solitary, "mindless killing machine". Sharks have individual personalities. They socialize, choose best friends and create social networks of unusual complexity (Oliver Duff). Other scholarly researchers have found this to be true as well. Research led by the University of Exeter and the Marine Biological Association of the UK (MBA) has shown for the first time that individual sharks actually possess social personalities, which determine how they might interact with group mates in the wild (Study Shows Sharks Have Personalities). The scientists who study animal behavior define personality as a well-thought-of behavior across time and contexts. Lesley Evans Ogden, a freelance science writer based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada found that animal personality refers to consistency in the types of behavior that individual’s exhibit (Study Shows Sharks Have Personalities). Multiple biologists, psychologists, endocrinologists ect. are now studying animal personality. In a study published in the journal of Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, a team tested for social personality by recording the social interactions of groups of juvenile small spotted catsharks in captivity under three different habitat types.
Oliver Duff states, “Like sea turtles, some sharks travel huge distances to return to their own birthplace, again and again, to give birth themselves. Most don't need to swim continuously to survive. And rather than being near-blind and reliant on smell, which is the general perception, they in fact have advanced sight. They feel pain. And the boldest sharks face a greater risk of dying before adulthood (Oliver Duff).” This finding is important because we are killing about 100 million sharks every year, 11,000 an hour. Sharks balance ecosystems; they stop animals in the middle of the marine food chain from proliferating and destroying life still further down. They also pick off the weakest, sickest and slowest fish, helping to prevent the spread of disease and parasites, and strengthening the gene pool of prey species. That is why scientists consider sharks to be 'keystone' species in marine ecosystems. If you take them away, the entire structure collapses(Oliver Duff).
Sharks are fascinating creatures, but like most animals are an endangered species due to oil spills and pollution. Overexploitation threatens the future of many large vertebrates. In the ocean, tunas and sea turtles are current conservation concerns because of this intense pressure. The status of most shark species, in contrast, remains uncertain. Using the largest data set in the Northwest Atlantic, we show rapid large declines in large coastal and oceanic shark populations. Scalloped hammerhead, white, and thresher sharks are each estimated to have declined by over 75% in the past 15 years. Closed-area models highlight priority areas for shark conservation, and the need to consider effort reallocation and site selection if marine reserves are to benefit multiple threatened species. Many types of sharks are at risk of becoming extinct which is why conservation efforts are in place. Extreme hunting of them to protect the waters, to have more fish alive that could be used for commercial fishing catches, and for food sources have greatly depleted the number of them out there. The first species of shark to be recognized as being in danger was the Gray Nurse Shark. However, even though they have been protected for more than two decades, less than 1,000 of them remain today. Even with some wonderful acts of conservation out there, sharks are still in danger. Too many people still see them as the evil creature lurking in the waters. Therefore they don’t see any real reason to protect them. One of the main goals though of many of these organizations is to get the correct information out there about sharks. That way more people will see them for what they really are instead of what the media and even movies have portrayed them to be. The conservation efforts in place right now generally focus on protecting the natural environments of sharks. Humans have taken over many of these areas which is why shark attacks happen. The fact that pollution and commercial fishing makes it extremely hard for many species to find enough food is another reason why they continue to move to regions they once didn’t inhabit. There are also thousands of them killed annually just for the thrill of their hunt of them. Preventing such events from occurring is another way in which these conservation groups strive to help these creatures to survive. With them having a very low amount of offspring that survive, plenty more has to be done if the numbers of those sharks in danger are going to increase enough to help them survive the next 100 years or longer. It is estimated that approximately 270,000 sharks are killed around the world each day for no good reason. That is alarming to many people that didn’t realize that there was such a huge problem with it. Opening up the eyes of the public though to the severity of the problem is a huge step forward for conservation efforts.

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