The Beacon

Blog Tags: Shark Week

Fact of the Day: Great White Shark

great white shark

Great White Shark (credit: Oceana/David P Stephens)

The final FOTD for Shark Week is on the fascinating great white shark, or white shark. Despite their reputation as man-eaters, great white sharks are actually more threatened by humans than vice versa.


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Fact of the Day: Zebra Shark

zebra shark

Adult Zebra Shark (credit: Peter Halasz)

Today’s FOTD is about the beautiful zebra shark. These sharks get their name from the impressive stripes found on the juveniles.

As they grow into adulthood, these stripes change into spots, which is why this shark is occasionally also called the leopard shark. (Taxonomists even originally thought that juvenile zebra sharks were actually a different species than the adult zebra sharks because their markings are so different!)


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Shark Skateboards Up for Bids

As you know, Oceana is a partner in Discovery’s Shark Week this year. Meanwhile, Discovery is a partner of this summer’s X-Games, so they asked artists to design and paint shark-themed skateboard decks to display at their X-Games tent.

The results are beautiful, and you can now bid on the skateboard decks online. The proceeds go directly to Oceana to help our shark conservation efforts.

There are some really cool ones -- check ‘em out!


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Five Ways to Help Protect Sharks

shark

You know that sharks are in trouble around the world. Their populations are crashing as a result of overfishing, shark finning and bycatch, and the oceans are suffering as a result.

So this shark week, what can you do to help save sharks? Here are five ways. Have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments.

1. Tell Congress to stop shark finning

The Shark Conservation Act would end shark finning in U.S. waters and make us world leaders in shark conservation. Tell your Senators to support shark protections by passing this bill.

2. Keep shark off the menu

Not only is it ecologically irresponsible to serve shark meat, it is also unhealthy. Since they are at the top of the ocean food chain, sharks bioaccumulate high amounts of mercury. For women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, this is especially dangerous. The bottom line? Stay away from shark meat.

3. Adopt a shark

Yes, sharks can be soft and cuddly -- when you adopt one from Oceana. When you adopt a hammerhead shark, you’ll receive a hammerhead stuffed animal with a personalized adoption certificate, and your donation will help our work to protect them. 

4. Educate yourself and others about sharks

There are dozens of species of sharks, from toothy great whites to filter-feeding whale sharks. The more you learn about these creatures, the more you will love them. So educate yourself and your loved ones -- especially the shark-fearing ones.

5. Spread the word: We should be scared for sharks

As our shark spokeswoman, January Jones, said in her PSA, we shouldn’t be scared of sharks, we should be scared for them. Spread this message on Facebook and Twitter -- and any other way you know how.


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Predators as Prey: 10 Threatened Shark Species

shark fins

A man unloads shark fins from a longliner in the Canary Islands. © Oceana/LX

We often tell you about the threats facing sharks globally -- finning, bycatch, overfishing -- but we don’t regularly shine a spotlight on the individual species affected.

To continue our ongoing shark-themed posts in honor of Shark Week, here are 10 of the most threatened shark species in the world:

1. Basking sharks are the second largest shark, easily distinguished by their huge, filter-feeding mouths. Basking sharks are caught in target fisheries around the world for their oil, meat and fins, and they are also caught as bycatch in other fisheries.

2. Blue sharks are one of the most previously abundant shark species. Now they are the most heavily fished shark in the world. An estimated 10-20 million individuals are killed by fisheries annually, mostly as bycatch. Blue shark meat is beginning to replace swordfish in many Mediterranean countries and the fins are commonly used in shark fin soup.

3. Deep-sea sharks have huge livers that contain high amounts of oil to regulate their buoyancy at depths. As a result, they are caught by deep-sea trawls, gillnets and longlines for an oily substance found in their livers called squalene. Squalene, or its derivative squalane, is found in many cosmetic products.


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Fact of the Day: Cookiecutter Shark

Today’s FOTD is brought to you by the letter C, which is for cookie…and cookiecutter shark

Unlike most of the other sharks I’ve written about so far, the cookiecutter shark is a relatively small shark; they only reach about 20 inches in length. Like some other sharks, such as great white sharks, female cookiecutters are larger than their male counterparts. 

Despite their small size, these sharks still have quite a bite. They latch onto their prey and create suction with their large lips. Then they use their powerful jaws and many teeth to carve a circular chunk of flesh out of the unlucky victim.  (Get it? Like a carnivorous, marine cookiecutter?)

Cookiecutter sharks attack large fish like tuna or even whales and dolphins; the prey usually survives the attack but the telltale round scar remains. They are also bioluminescent; they have a patch on their bellies that glows in the dark, deep waters where they live. They use their bioluminescence to attract potential prey.

See you tomorrow for another shark FOTD and I hope you’re enjoying Shark Week as much as I am!


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Five Fun Things to Do This Shark Week

As you know, shark week is about more than just TV shows. It’s about celebrating our elasmobranch friends in all their beauty, mystery and glory. And it’s fun!

Take a bite out of these fun shark activities for all ages on Discovery’s Shark Week website -- and this is just a sampling:

1. Shark personality quiz

Are you as beautiful as a whale shark, or goofy as a hammerhead ? Find out what kind of shark you are, and check out the many other shark quizzes, too.

2. Shark yourself

Upload a photo of yourself and voila -- become a beautiful, hideous or scary-looking shark. This one is my personal favorite. (Yep, that’s me in the image.)

3. Live shark cam

Watch live shark video from the Georgia Aquarium. Daily events to tune in for include: interactive dive tour at 12:30 p.m. ET, a sand tiger and hammerhead shark feeding at 1:30 p.m. ET, a whale shark feeding at 3:00 p.m. ET and an expert chat at 10:00 p.m. ET.

4. Virtual dive with sharks

Put on your virtual scuba suit and find out which sharks prefer splashing in the shallows vs. lurking in the deep.

5. Shark map and status

Check out this interactive map of the current population status of sharks in 18 different regions around the world.

Have fun, and let us know your favorite!


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Fact of the Day: Sandtiger Shark

Sandtiger Shark (credit: Jeff Kubina)

You asked for it so here it is: a FOTD on the sandtiger shark!

Sandtiger sharks go by many names including the ragged-tooth shark and the gray nurse shark. When unprovoked, these sharks are fairly docile, despite their frightening appearance. 

Female sandtiger sharks give birth to two live pups, one from each of their two uteri. Because of the relatively small litter size, sandtiger shark populations have a particularly slow growth rate and it takes them a long time to recover from population decreases.    


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Fact of the Day: Scalloped Hammerhead Shark

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (credit: Barry Peters)

Shark Week started last night! (And how great was ‘Ultimate Air Jaws?!”)

Oceana is a partner in Shark Week this year, and it’s my favorite week of the year, so I’m going to keep the celebration going with daily shark facts!

The scalloped hammerhead shark is just one of the many species of hammerhead shark, all of which have the characteristic t-shaped head.


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Swimming With Belize's Gentle Giants

© Tony Rath

Happy Shark Week! Oceana scientist Margot Stiles wrote this post for us back in May, but in honor of Shark Week, and because I like it so much, here it is again for your reading pleasure.

Have you ever swum with sharks? Let us know in the comments! - Emily

Every spring Belize hosts one of nature’s great wonders: the arrival of whale sharks in search of spawning snapper. This year I had the pleasure of witnessing it first hand, on last month’s Oceana expedition.

The whale shark is the largest fish in the sea at 60 feet long, but it is mild-mannered and harmless to people. Around the full moons of March through June each year, whale sharks arrive and begin feeding at the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve near Placencia, Belize.

Tony Rath of Naturalight Productions has spent thirty years photographing wildlife in Belize and still beams at the mention of his most recent expedition with Oceana. “Seeing whale sharks this close is an unforgettable experience, as inspiring as seeing a puma or any of the large animals on land,” he said.


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