The Beacon

Blog Tags: Whale Sharks

Photos: Meet the Biggest Shark Species Swimming in the Oceans

Great white sharks are the third largest shark species

A great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). (Photo: Oceana)

Do you think you can name the largest shark species swimming in our oceans? Great white sharks probably come to mind first, but it turns out that those behemoths aren’t actually the largest out of the hundreds of existing shark species.

These cartilaginous fish have been navigating the world’s oceans for roughly 450 million years—even before the dinosaurs—so they’re naturally worthy of celebrating. 


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Poll: What’s Your Favorite Shark Species?

Favorite shark species

Caribbean Reef Shark (Carcharhinus perezi). (Photo: Oceana / Carlos Suárez)

In honor of Discovery’s Shark Week, The Beacon will be celebrating the wonders of sharks through Friday. With over 350 shark species, the class Chondrichthyes is full of biodiversity, from sawfish to manta rays and famous great white sharks.

This week, we’re asking our readers to weigh in your favorite shark species. You have until Thursday, August 14 at 11:59 p.m. to pick one of the shark species below (take a look beneath the poll for a glimpse of each species), and whichever shark gets the most votes will be featured on The Beacon on Friday with a full species bio.


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Photos: The 10 Coolest Facts You Never Knew about Sharks

Top ten cool shark facts

A school of scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini). (Photo: Oceana / Rob Stewart)

From our obsession with shark-themed movies like “Jaws,” to our desire to collect shark teeth at the beach, there's no denying that humans have a fascination with these cartilaginous fish.

But, just how well do you know these creatures? Even if you consider yourself pretty knowledgeable about these species, there’s always something new to learn. Take a look below at ten cool shark facts that may make you look at these ancient creatures in a different light.


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Ocean News: Sharks Seized from Poachers in the Gulf of Mexico, Elusive Jellyfish Makes Rare Appearance, and More

Sharks were seized from poaching vessels in the Gulf of Mexico

A shark caught on a long line. (Photo: NOAA Photo Library / Flickr Creative Commons)

- It turns out that sharks may be confusing surfers for birds, according to a study that examined a previous deadly shark attack. That study found that the motions made by kite surfers puts them at particular risk. Discovery News


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Ocean News: Croatia Wins the World Cup for the Oceans, Vietnamese Illegal Fishing is on the Rise, and More

A whale shark (Rhincodon typus) in Belize.

A whale shark (Rhincodon typus) in Belize. (Photo: Oceana / Tim Calver)

- Fishermen have killed a record number of whale sharks over the past 13 months in India’s  Godavari region. It’s estimated that 15 whale sharks have been killed, but many fishermen are not aware that the government has sanctions in place to reward fishermen with cash prizes if they accidentally catch and then release the animals. The Hindu


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Top 10 Whale Shark Facts

Magnificent, majestic, massive: Meet the whale shark l Photo: Shiyam ElkCloner

Today is International Whale Shark Day, so what better time to celebrate these magnificent creatures? Here are 10 facts to dazzle your friends with:

1. We know you’re wondering: whale shark – whale, or shark? The whale shark is a shark, and as a shark (and thus a fish), it is the largest fish in the sea. It breathes via its gills, and has cartilage instead of bone, making it a true shark. The name “whale shark” comes from the shark’s large size, which rivals some species of whales, and also because the shark is a filter feeder, like baleen whales.


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2,000 Sharks Massacred in Colombian Sanctuary

shark fins

Shark fins drying in the sun. © Oceana/LX

Just a few weeks after we celebrated a soaring victory for sharks on the U.S. West Coast, Colombian authorities have reported that as many as 2,000 hammerhead, Galápagos and silky sharks may have been slaughtered in Colombia's Pacific waters.  

According to the Colombian president’s top environmental adviser, divers saw 10 Costa Rican trawlers illegally entering the Malpelo wildlife sanctuary.  When the divers swam down to the ocean floor, they found a shocking amount of sharks without their fins.

The Malpelo sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site, provides an ideal habitat for threatened sharks. Unfortunately, the high concentration of sharks in the sanctuary draws illegal fishing boats from nearby nations.

It’s sad day for sharks, but we'll continue working to stop illegal fishing and shark finning. You can help by supporting our campaign to protect our ocean’s top predators from extinction.


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Unpacking the Shark Myth: ‘Demon Fish’

demon fish

Washington Post environment and politics reporter Juliet Eilperin has a new book out today that explores the science and mythology behind the ocean’s top predators.

In “Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks,” Eilperin travels the globe -- she swims with whale sharks in Belize and great white sharks in South Africa -- to investigate how individuals and cultures relate to sharks and how the misperceptions surrounding them threaten their continued existence on the planet.

The book also includes a few nods to Oceana’s shark campaign work, including our work to combat the use of squalane in beauty products, and actress January Jones’ visit to Capitol Hill to advocate for sharks.  

But enough about us, be sure to check out NPR’s great interview with Eilperin, and catch her on tour in the coming months. You can see her full tour schedule as well as excerpts, reviews and other information about the book at www.demonfishbook.com.

Here’s a book trailer for “Demon Fish” to whet your appetite:

 


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January Jones on Swimming with Whale Sharks

For her second “Scared for Sharks” PSA, “Mad Men” star January Jones joined Oceana in Belize to swim with the largest fish in the ocean: the whale shark.

Last spring, I traveled with Oceana to Belize’s Gladden Spit Marine Reserve to photograph and film whale sharks for the new "Scared for Sharks" PSA. It was my second time swimming with sharks, so I wasn’t as nervous, especially since whale sharks, like most sharks, are not a threat to humans.

 

It’s humans, in fact, who pose the greater risk to sharks because of our insatiable desire for shark fins, shark livers, shark teeth and every other shark product you can think of. Scientists say that tens of millions of sharks are killed every year for their fins, which is directly causing some shark populations around the world to crash.


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Expedition Wildlife Spotting, Part 2

On my second attempt to spot whale sharks yesterday, I flew with the effervescent Bonny Schumaker, whose organization On Wings of Care helps protect wildlife and their habitats by helping with search, rescue, rehabilitation and scientific research. Samantha Whitcraft of the non-profit Oceanic Defense also joined us for the flight. We took off from New Orleans and flew about 50 miles south over the Gulf.

Bonny and her 4-seater plane, whom she lovingly refers to as “Bessie,” have years of experience spotting wildlife.  Unfortunately, despite Bonny and Bessie’s best efforts, the conditions yesterday were simply not ideal for finding marine life. Choppy waters and white caps made it a challenge to see much of anything besides oil rigs, oil boom and barrier islands:



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