14th July is celebrated as Shark Awareness Day – the day to look beyond the popular perception of these magnificent creatures, learn how sharks are important to the oceans, explore shark facts and most importantly raise awareness to help protect sharks from extinction.
Sharks have been long touted as gruesome killers, and even man-eaters. But this is far from reality.
If truth is to be told, they fear humans as much humans fear them! Also we are a far greater threat to sharks than they are to us.
The probability of being attacked by a shark is roughly around 1 in 11.5 million, while on the other hand it is estimated that humans kill around 100 million sharks annually!
Table of Contents:
- Why are Sharks Important to the Oceans?
- Why are Sharks Endangered?
- Shark Fun Facts
- Types of Sharks
- Shark Books for Kids
So, contrary to the popular belief, the math just doesn’t match for these vilified creatures. This baseless fear of sharks has been much instigated by movies and media!
Learn about All About Sharks and print Free Shark Awareness Day Worksheets (at the end of the page) to get your kids really involved in saving these masters of the oceans.
Why Are Sharks Important To The Oceans?
Sharks are an indispensable piece of marine ecosystem puzzle and they just cannot be discarded.
These apex predators have a few natural enemies. Far from what meets the eye, sharks have a big role to play in maintaining the food web. As a top predator, they have their role in maintaining the delicate balance of the marine food web.
Decreasing shark population would lead to an unnatural increase in the population of their prey, which in turn would affect aquatic animals that fall below them in food web and finally adversely impacting sea grass habitats and coral reefs. Thus, disturbing the entire marine food chain.
It is believed that eliminating sharks from the marine ecosystem would adversely impact seagrass beds, which are important for their ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere and help fight climate change.
Besides this, sharks are critical to the health marine ecosystem as well. They maintain the ocean’s health by preying on old and sick, thus helping prevent the spread of diseases and maintaining a healthy gene pool.
Shark Awareness Day aims at shining light on the vital role sharks play in maintaining our oceans and raise awareness to conserve & protect them.
Why are Sharks Endangered?
Sadly, humans are responsible for the dwindling shark population. Increased human activity, destruction of habitat, ocean pollution and a huge demand for shark fins, shark teeth has led to depleting populations of certain shark species so much that they are now listed endangered and some are even critically close to extinction.
They are often a bycatch and end up tangled, and in worst cases strangled, in commercial fishing nets.
Besides fishing, baited drum lines and shark nets also account for shark deaths especially in young sharks which are more likely to strangle from them.
With such a scenario at hand, raising awareness and educating people, especially youth, about this top predator can bring a positive change.
20 Fun Facts about Sharks
This Shark Awareness Day, build up interest and intrigue by sharing fun facts about sharks for kids. After all, raising awareness about Sharks and learning about these wonderful creatures is great way to protect them.
1. Sharks have outlived dinosaurs, which roamed our planet nearly 200 million years ago and are among the oldest animals of Earth. These graceful creatures have been around for more than 400 million years and there is a good reason why!
2. Sharks come in various shapes and sizes. There are about 520 different types of sharks, each with a different temperament.
3. Sharks do not have any bones in their bodies. They are cartilaginous fishes meaning their skeletons are made of cartilage not bones. Your nose and ear too are made of cartilage.
What is the Human Skeleton made of? What other systems make up our body? Find out in this journal:
4. They have excellent vision and can see very well even in little light. This helps them spot their prey easily at night.
5. Unlike other fishes those have scales, shark’s skin is tough and covered in teeth-like structures called dermal denticles.
6. Whale shark is the largest shark as well as the biggest fish. It can reach up to 50 feet long and weigh around 20 tons.
7. Sharks have electroreceptor organs that allow them to sense temperature shifts and electromagnetic fields in the oceans.
8. Most sharks are excellent swimmers and can swim at a speed of 32 to 40 kilometer per hour.
9. Sharks have an excellent sense of smell that helps them identify their prey over long distances.
10. Whale shark spots are as unique as human fingerprints.
11. A baby shark is called a pup and is independent as soon as it is born.
12. Sharks vary from each other in how they reproduce. Some give birth to live young while others lay eggs.
13. Sharks go into a trance or a sleep like state when flipped over.
14. At a time, sharks have about 3000 teeth divided into 5 rows. Also they lose up to 100 teeth a day.
15. Obligate ram-ventilating sharks include great white sharks, mako sharks and whale sharks. They never rest and have to keep swimming their entire lives.
Continuous swimming allows water to pass through their gills and deliver oxygen to their blood. In case these sharks are not able to swim, like when caught in fishing net, they can die due to suffocation.
16. Some sharks sleep with their eyes open with part of their brain awake (Uni-hemispheric sleep) to keep them from drowning. They aren’t the only animals that have strange sleep habits.
17. Whale sharks are estimated to have a lifespan of around 150 years while the smaller sharks are estimated to live up to 20 to 30 years.
18.Most sharks have darker upper bodies and lighter undersides. This helps them blend-in, camouflage, in the ocean waters. Camouflage helps them stay hidden and catch their prey.
What’s Camouflage? It’s how Animals Play Hide and Seek… with a very different purpose! Get your Camouflage Journal here:
19. Chain cat shark and swell shark are bio-fluorescent meaning they glow in the dark.
20. The smallest shark is the Dwarf Lantern shark measuring only 19 centi-meters.
Also read 200+ Fun Facts for Kids to amaze your kids!
Types of Sharks
When it comes to how many types of sharks are there, we don’t a clear number! It is estimated there are nearly 520 types of sharks, as per the latest data, swimming across the oceans.
Here we will be highlighting some of the most impressive ones that are sure to pique everyone’s interest.
1. Whale Shark
These are the largest sharks and the biggest fishes. Whale sharks are spotty and each whale shark has its own unique pattern of spots.
They are found in the warm waters of Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. These creatures, despite their enormous size, feed on tiny planktons and filter feeders.
They give birth to live young measuring only 16 to 24 inches at birth.
2. Basking Shark
These gentle giants are the second biggest sharks to swim our oceans. Like Whale sharks, Basking sharks too are filter feeders.
They swim with their mouths wide open and appear to be basking all the time, hence the name Basking Sharks.
Found in all oceans of the world, these docile fishes prefer cold, temperate waters compared to warm waters.
3. Great White Shark
These great predators are found across all the oceans. Great whites are curious by nature and have a formidable image as the most fearsome predators in the ocean. However, even these terrifying creatures are afraid of the menacing killer whales.
They can grow up to six meters long and weigh more than 4000 pounds. These sharks are excellent swimmers with an unmatchable sense of smell that allows them to smell their prey even from two miles.
4. Mako Shark
Found throughout tropical and temperate seas, Mako sharks are fierce predators and the fastest sharks.
These fast swimmers can grow up to 14.5 feet and weigh up to 500 Kgs. There are two types of mako sharks – Long finned mako shark and short finned mako shark.
5. Bull Shark
These large sharks are infamous for their aggressive behaviour. They are characterised by their blunt snout and can regulate their bodies to live both in fresh water as well as salt water.
This makes them unique to the shark species. These fearsome sharks can grow up to 11.5 feet and weigh nearly 500 pounds.
6. Tiger Shark
Tiger sharks dwell in tropical and subtropical waters of the world and are voracious hunters, much like their terrestrial namesake.
The name Tiger shark comes from tiger-like stripes on the bodies of their young. However, as these sharks grow these stripes almost fade out.
Aggressive and built to kill, these sharks can grow up to 14 feet and weigh nearly 1400 pounds.
7. Hammerhead Shark
One of the most distinct looking sharks, hammerhead sharks can be easily distinguished from the shape of their heads.
These gifted hunters use their mallet shaped heads to scan the wide range of ocean at a time to hunt.
Found across all warm and tropical zones, these creatures can grow up to 20 feet and weigh nearly 1000 pounds.
8. Thresher Sharks
The long tail fin of thresher sharks makes them unmistakable to recognise. Measuring nearly half of their body length, the tail fin is used by thresher sharks to stun and herd prey.
There are three types of thresher sharks – Common thresher shark, pelagic thresher shark and big-eye thresher shark.
Found in tropical and sub-tropical waters, these sharks are known to migrate to temperate waters to hunt.
9. Blue Sharks
The name blue shark comes from their coloration, which is unique to the shark species.
These beautiful, stunning creatures have dark blue backs, lighter blue sides and white undersides.
These open-ocean, big-eyed sharks are migratory in nature and are found in temperate and tropical oceans of the world.
10. Brown banded Bamboo Shark
These relatively much smaller sharks are found in shallow waters and are nocturnal in nature. These sharks get their name from distinct dark and light bands on their bodies.
Much like tiger sharks, these bands are more pronounced in juveniles and fade as these sharks grow.
Shark Awareness Day Printable
A great idea to get children really absorb what they have learned about these wonderful creatures and to get them involved is through fun worksheets.
These Shark Awareness Day Worksheets for Kids are fun to do and encourage children to think, motivating them to take small actions that can make a powerful impact.
1. Sharks are cartilaginous fishes meaning their skeletons are made of cartilage not bones.
2. Whale shark is the largest shark as well as the biggest fish. It can reach up to 50 feet long and weigh around 20 tons.
3. They have excellent vision and can see very well even in little light. This helps them spot their prey easily at night.
4. Sharks vary from each other in how they reproduce. Some give birth to live young while others lay eggs.
5. The smallest shark is the Dwarf Lantern shark measuring only 19 centi-meters.
Sharks are an indispensable piece of marine ecosystem puzzle and they have a big role to play in maintaining the food web.
Absence of sharks from the marine ecosystem would adversely impact our ocean’s health, affecting its ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
With Sharks falling in the list of endangered species because of human activities, raising awareness and educating people, especially kids, is imperative to bring a positive change.
Sharks maintain the marine food web besides acting as scavengers that keep the ocean waters healthy and clean.
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