Though often thought of as our biggest sea-dwelling predator, how much do you really know about sharks? Do you know that you’re more likely to get bitten by another person (ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends excluded) than by a shark? Or that there have been less unprovoked shark bites since the 1500’s than text messages you send each month? How about that all sharks aren’t just grey but come in most colors of the rainbow – like pink and yellow? Sharks are fascinating creatures and crucial in keeping an ecosystem balanced. Without these expert predators (well, not all are expert predators – some seem as lost as us on a Monday morning), oceanic ecosystems would be so upset we could likely kiss goodbye to our favorite fish and crustaceans. In this list, we bring out some lesser-known facts about sharks such as: why baby sharks eat their siblings in the womb and what the weirdest things sharks have ever eaten are. (Would you guess a polar bear?) Since the great white shark is way over-popularized, we focus more facts about the host of other shark species patrolling our oceans. Sink your teeth into this list of 25 Facts About Sharks: Terrors Of The Ocean.
One of the nastiest tastes on the planet
One of Iceland’s national dishes is hákarl: Greenland shark which has been cured, fermented, and left to dry for up to five months. It’s been called 100 times stronger than blue cheese and “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing” by Anthony Bourdain.
Sharks helping humans fight off infection
Since barnacles and bacteria for some reason don’t generally grow on sharks, scientists are testing shark skin as a way to fight bacterial infections in humans.
The weirdest things eaten by sharks
Sharks in the polar regions are often known for eating seals, but did you know Greenland sharks have been found to have eaten horses, reindeer, and even polar bears?
Why more sharks attack near California
There are more shark attacks near California because they have more prey. The United States government has established various protected natural areas nearby; sea mammal populations have thus increased, bringing more sharks in to feast.
Shark bite records for the past 400 years
Only 2,463 unprovoked shark bites were reported from 1588-2011. Less than a fifth were fatal.
Sharks might eat your camera
Since sharks use electrical signals to hunt for prey, underwater cameras can put out electrical signals sharks may think is food.
Shark blood has anti-coagulants
Scientists are also studying shark blood to help patients with heart disease, specifically studying a clotting compound naturally present in shark blood.
The best place to survive a shark attack
It’s better to be swimming in cold water if you get bitten by a shark since the cold water lowers your body temperature which will also slow down blood loss. That said, more people die from playing high school or college football than from shark bites.
The little shark eye eater
Parasitic crustaceans can attach themselves to a Greenland shark’s eye and eat away at the cornea, causing the shark to go blind. The bioluminescent parasites are said to attract shark prey.
Baby sharks eat their siblings
Baby sharks often eat their brothers and sisters in the womb, but do you know why? Since a female shark can be impregnated by multiple male sharks, the little sharks eat each other so their father’s baby (called a pup) is born.
Great whites don't like how we taste
Ask any person which shark they are most scared of and likely they’ll say a great white shark. Thankfully, we don’t have too much to fear as great whites don’t actually like the taste of humans, most often biting and releasing.
Self-heating shark eyes
Cold water sharks can activate an organ next to their eye sockets which heats up their eyes, helping them hunt better in freezing waters.
The shark which swims as it sleeps
The dogfish shark is especially known among the shark world for a strange trait it possesses: sleep swimming. Akin to human sleepwalking, dogfish sharks can swim around while sleeping.
Blue sharks' strange romance
Many shark species have unusual courting techniques. To show interest, a male blue shark will bite a female – hard. Female blue sharks naturally have skin three times as thick as males to protect them from this bad romance.
Besides their commonly-known grayish appearance, some sharks are even found in pink or yellow.
The barking shark
The swell shark can double its body size to keep predators from pulling it out of its daytime sleeping spots of reefs and crevices. The release of air sounds like a bark. (To prevent other fish from attacking, It sometimes grabs its own tail in its mouth.)
The tiniest shark
The remarkably small dwarf lanternshark is only 8 inches (20 cm) long and emits its own light from various luminous spots.
A jaw the size of three humans
A whale shark can open its mouth up to 15 feet (4.6 m) wide. Thankfully it only eats plankton!
Sharks' excellent peripheral vision
A troubling shark fact for smaller fish, sharks can see around themselves in nearly 360 degrees. The only spots they can’t see are in front of their snouts and just behind their heads.
A football-playing shark
When they’re not cruising around looking for a meal, porbeagle sharks toss bits of seaweed among themselves in a game that has been compared to football.
The patron shark of travelers
If you’re a backpacker looking for a new spirit animal, consider the hammerhead shark. The nomadic travelers swim from the Floridian coasts all the way up to Polar Regions, adapting to the changing temperatures along the way.
A shark's largest organ
Despite their seemingly ravenous hunger, a shark’s liver – not its stomach – is its largest organ.
Sharks' pearly whites
One of the coolest shark facts on our list is that sharks never get cavities. The outside of their teeth is made of fluoride, the primary active ingredient in most toothpastes.
The underachieving shark
The hideous looking (and strangely named) wobbegong shark doesn’t shark-it-up very well. A bad swimmer, the shark lays in ambush on the seafloor for days at a time to surprise fish which swim by.
Shark vs Man
Sharks kill less than 15 people annually, a meager number when compared to the 73 million sharks killed by man each year.