TYPES OF SHARKS
To wrap it up, let's look at some of the types of sharks we've been discussing.
- flat body like a stingray -- you can
tell the shark is not a ray because the pectoral fins are not attached to
- They bury themselves in the sand or mud with only the eyes and part of the top of the body exposed.
- They are bottom feeders, eating crustaceans like clams
and mollusks and fish that are swimming close to the ocean floor
- second largest shark (about 30 feet long and 8,000
- filters plankton from the water using "gill rakers"
BLACKTIP REEF SHARK (Carcharhinus melanopterus):
- does well in captivity so is often found in aquariums (which is why we have so many photos of them)
- grey with a black tip on its fins and white streak
on its side
SHARK (Carcharhinus limbatus):
- Blacktip Sharks are different than Blacktip Reef Sharks (this confused me for quite some time)!
- They are usually about 5 feet long although the longest on record was about 9 feet long.
- during breeding season every February and March, around 10,000 congregate along the Florida coastline. It's like spring-break vacation for sharks!
- about 12 feet
- sleek, tapered
- among the fastest swimming sharks and can even leap out of the water
- diet consists mostly of squid, but it will eat almost anything
- considered dangerous - have
- third most dangerous to people
- can swim in salt and fresh water
and have even been found in the Mississipi river.
- a small shark (less than 2 feet long)
- eats perfecty round chunks out of living whales and
dolphins by clamping its teeth extremely sharp teeth onto them.
- very uncommon and likely the strangest looking shark
(rarely seen the photos were actually taken in 1909)
- pale, pinkish grey skin with a long pointed snout (it
looks a bit like a sword on top of its head)
- lives in very deep water.
- found off the coast of Japan in 1898... until that time
it was believed to have been extinct for 100 million years
GREAT WHITE SHARK:
- more attacks on people than
any other type.
- averages 12 feet long and
- unlike most sharks, it can
lift its head out of the water.
- unlikely to attack people,
but considered dangerous due to its predatory nature and its size (10 to 20 feet)
- eyes and nostrils are far
apart, giving it a "hammerhead" appearance and allowing the
shark to extend the range of its senses.
- their favorite food is stingrays. Luckily for the sharks, they're immune to the stingray's venom.
- fastest swimmer (43 miles per hour)
- known to leap out of the water (sometimes into
Nurse shark near Ambergris Caye, Belize -- photo by
- bottom dwelling shark
- thin, fleshy, whisker-like organs on the lower jaw in front of the nostrils that
they use to touch and taste
- hunt at night, sleep by day
- common at aquariums
PORT JACKSON SHARK:
- one of nine living species of bullheaded sharks
- live near Port Jackson, Australia
They have very interesting spiral eggs that sometimes wash up on shore:
- the sandtiger
shark has very pointed teeth -- the better to eat you with (if
you're a fish!)
- 10 feet long
- predator (carnivore)
(hunts mostly at night)
The mother shark has two uterus. Many sharks begin in the
uterus, but the strongest one in each uterus eats all the others
before they are born.
SPINY DOGFISH SHARK:
- the most abundant shark
- 3 to 4 feet long
- slightly poisonous spines (not very harmful to people)
- used by people for food and research.
- 10 foot tail (1/2 as long as the body) which it uses to
herd small fish
- second most attacks on people
- eat anything! (have been
found with boat cushions and alarm clocks in their stomachs)
- biggest shark and biggest
- it isn't a whale (whales are
mammals, not fish)
- grow to 45 feet long and
30,000 pounds, but average about 25 feet long
- filters plankton from the water using "gill
Photo by Yvonne
WHITE TIP REEF SHARK:
- probably the most common
shark encountered by divers and snorkelers on tropical reefs
- about 3 feet long on
average though it can be as big as 6 feet.
- dark grey with a white tip
on the first and sometimes on the second dorsal fin as well as the
- about 8 feet long, but virtually harmless.
- lives in Australia and Pacific coastal reefs
- lies on the bottom of the ocean waiting for
fish to come near.
- filters food into its mouth with worm-like
projections on its head
- razor-like teeth
- yellow, brown and gray camouflage
- small, gentle shark that can
be kept in an aquarium with other fish
- tail is half its length