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With a mouthful of teeth, sharks do not seem to need much protection.
In fact one shark goes through thousands of teeth in a lifetime. Each row of succeeding teeth is larger than the set before.
But sharks´teeth are built for eating. The shape of a sharks teeth depend on the type of food it eats, and some sharks’teeth change shape as they grow older and their diet changes to suit the needs of their growing bodies.
sharks also have other types of protection. A protective lid, called the nictitating lid, helps keep its eyes safe from harm when it attacks prey or nears an unfamiliar object. Some sharks will also roll their eyes back into the sockets showing only the whites while attacking prey to protect the more important seeing part of the eye.
Bottom feeding sharks, such as the angel shark or wobbegong, have coloration matching their environment. Others will bury themselves in the sandy ocean bottom.
However, sharks have little or no protection from humans who hunt them for almost every part of their body to make leather, jewelry, soup, cosmetics, and other items. Sharks are also hunted for sport and many are inadvertently caught in fishing nets or in nets placed to protect humans.
However; the product that drives the market are the fins. After drying, collagen fibers are extracted from them, cleaned, and processed to make ‘shark fin soup’. In spite of the fact that these fibers have little flavour or nutritional value, the soup is considered a delicacy, and may sell in the Orient for more than $100 ( £65) a bowl. As long as the humans pay a lot of money for these fins, it will never stop, and we will kill the sharks and ourselves
The explosive growth of the Chinese economy and rapid expansion of trade with the outside world during the 1985 and 1995 created an unprecedented situation. Suddenly there was an insatiable demand for shark fins of almost any size or type. Improvements in shipbuilding and navigational electronics meant that shark fishing boats could now go anywhere in the world, moving from one place to another as local shark populations were destroyed. The fins are now so much more valuable than the rest of the shark that the carcass is often discarded after the fins are removed, to save storage space on the boat. Often the fins are sliced off when the shark is still alive and the mutilated shark is dumped back into the water, where sinks straight to the bottom because without back fin can´t swim, to die a slow and agonizing death.
Helping To Protect Sharks
Since sharks reproduce at a much slower rate and mature more slowly than bony fish, it is important that people are careful not to deplete the shark population to a point where it can not be recovered. In some cases the environments in which the sharks live are being destroyed.
While sharks have a bad reputation, they rarely attack people unless they are provoked or mistake a human for their normal prey. More people drown in the ocean each year than are attacked by sharks. Only a few of the 365 types of sharks, the bull, the great white, the oceanic white-tip, and the tiger shark are aggressive toward human.
Encouraging the use of electric barriers instead of nets to keep sharks out of an area is one way to help. Also discourage the hunting of sharks for sport or the production of unnecessary articles such as jewelry and souvenirs. In addition learn more about sharks and inform others of ways to live peaceably with these fascinating animals.
A Shark’s Sixth Sense
In order to live and hunt in the ocean waters, sharks have the same 5 senses as human do. They have smell, taste, touch, hearing, and sight. These senses vary in their strength. Many sharks have sharp eyesight, some of which seem particularly sensitive to movement. Most sharks also have a well developed sense of smell.
However, sharks possess a sixth sense which people do not have. Sharks are able to detect weak electrical signals generated by their prey. This sense is detected through small sensory pores called ampullae.
• The smallest shark is the dwarf dog shark which is 6 ½ inches (16 cm) in length.
• The largest shark, ranging up to 40 ft. (12m) in length is the whale shark.
• Whale sharks are large non aggressive creatures which will sometimes allow divers to hitch a ride by holding on to a pectoral fin.
• Most sharks give birth to live young rather than lay eggs.
• The shark with the longest tail is the thresher shark. Its tail can be 5-8 ft. in length, or as long as its body.
• The hammerhead shark swings its head from side to side as it swims, allowing it to use its well developed sense of smell and many ampullae to search for prey in a wide variety of directions in a small amount of time.
• The fastest shark is the Mako, which can swim at 20 mph (32 kph) and leap completely clear of the ocean surface when it is excited.
• Angel sharks have extra large pectoral fins resembling angel wings. These sharks spend their lives mostly on the ocean bed resting in the sand waiting for prey to come to them.
• Some sharks migrate hundreds of miles using what scientists believe to be a sense of the earth’s magnetic field to guide them.
• One shark makes oval shape bites in its victim, by creating a suction with its lips and swiveling around for the bite. It is appropriately named the cookie cutter shark.
• One of the smallest sharks, the lantern shark, grows to only 8 in (20 cm) in length and glows in the dark.
• The most recent discovery of a shark was not made until 1976. This was the large Megamouth shark, of which only five more have ever been found. This unusual shark which feeds on krill has luminous organs around its mouth.