Are they the hunters or the ones being hunted? Few people realize that more than 100 million sharks are killed every year at the hands of humanity. This is largely due to the market for shark purposes. Millions more die as bycatch in nets intended for other species. These sharks are often thrown overboard as garbage.

By comparison, there are typically fewer than 10 recorded fatal shark attacks on humans in an average year.

Surprised? don’t be Sharks are widely misrepresented and misunderstood. Continue reading We’ve got 10 shark facts we’re willing to bet you didn’t know. Let’s separate some of the fiction from the facts…

1. He’s older than you think…

More than 400 million years of evolution have refined shark species to be perfectly adapted to the various aquatic environments in which they are found. Compare that with human history. The cavemen we are descended from only stood on two legs about 6 million years ago.

2. The Mighty Megalodon

Compared to the now-extinct Megalodon, the Great White is a pussycat. The largest shark that ever lived, they could grow up to 30 meters long. A grown man could easily have stood inside the gaping mouth of a full-grown Megalodon.

3. Jaws spits, she doesn’t swallow

Sadly, the majestic great white shark is still considered by many to be a mindless, murderous killing machine. There was a time not too long ago when mankind too feared the predators at the top of the food chain that walked the earth. Tigers, lions, polar bears were slaughtered without thinking about the effect this would have on the ecosystems of which they were (and are) an important part. Slowly, they are being protected, rather than executed.

When a great white shark bites a swimmer, surfer or their board, it is often a case of mistaken identity. Seen from below, a surfer on a board can look a lot like a big, fat, tasty seal. Great whites are so evolved that when they bite their prey, they get an idea of ​​how much body fat the creature is carrying.

When they take a bite out of a human, they often don’t bother to “finish the job.” We are rather bony, not fat and juicy like seals. Then they spit on us. Unfortunately, we’re left with a pretty nasty wound, often miles from shore…

4. You can’t see me…

Even when the sharks can’t see you…they can still feel you. As sharks evolved, they developed a “sixth sense.” Ampoules of Lorenzi may sound like an exotic Italian dish. It’s not. They are the receptors that sharks use to detect electromagnetic signals that go unnoticed by humans and other species.

Sharks are said to be able to “feel” how fast your heart is beating when they swim alongside you. Hammerhead sharks have been observed hunting rays buried under the sand, using their ability to detect where their next potential meal is hiding. Once they have pinpointed the location, they (literally) drive the stripe under the sand using the two-pronged hammer that is its head. Incapacitated, the unlucky ray turns into lunch.

As they say, you can run, but you can’t hide… at least not from a hungry hammerhead shark!

5. Sharks do not get cancer

OK, not 100% true, but almost. The scientists forced the sharks to ingest known carcinogens and injected them with deadly toxins. However, there are still fewer than 10 verified reports of sharks developing malignant tumors. Humanity has much to gain by studying these fascinating fish, rather than slaughtering them.

6. Bad tooth? Farm some more!

If you have a cat, you know how much hair it can shed. A similar phenomenon can be observed in many species of sharks. It is not surprising that they lose teeth while feeding or as they age. What is unusual is that they have the ability to grow larger.

7. Is that a shark in the lake?

Bull sharks are a species of shark that have evolved the ability to regulate the amount of water in their bodies, regardless of how much salt is in their aquatic environment. That means they can enter rivers and even swim upstream to lakes in search of food. Lake Nicaragua and the Zambezi River in Africa are two places where sharks are reported to navigate quite comfortably.

8. You suck. And you are loud.

A shark’s sense of smell goes beyond what we humans can imagine. Some species can sense blood in the water at a concentration of one part per 10 billion. That means a person with even an open scratch would be spotted by any shark within a very wide radius, very quickly. Sharks can be found in almost every ocean environment on earth. People too. Swim, fish or dive. However, there are relatively very few attacks on people.

Senseless and indiscriminate killers? I do not think so.

While a diver wearing a breathing unit is relatively quiet, conventional scuba gear is noisy for those who live in the underwater world. This is part of the reason sharks can be so difficult to spot and photograph. To them, we sound like a truck roaring past, with our bubbles and noisy breathing.

9. We will eat anything

It depends. Tiger sharks have earned an especially infamous reputation as “opportunistic” eaters. Tires, baby whales, shoes and sailors. Whatever it is, it was most likely found in the belly of a tiger.

That said, the gentle giants of the sea and the largest fish on earth are the whale sharks. They don’t have teeth. Being filter feeders, they filter plankton from the sea as they swim. They are beautiful creatures that will tolerate divers and (sometimes) divers swimming alongside them. Sadly, they are now endangered in many places where they once swam in healthy numbers.

10. Be afraid, be very afraid. No wait. do not be…

Large sharks, like any wild animal that is a top predator and carnivore, should be given a healthy degree of respect. Especially when we divers suit up, take the leap into the sea, and essentially arrive (uninvited) at their homes. If a pack of tigers were to drop through my roof without warning and proceed to follow me around my house, I’d get a little nervous too.

Essentially, this is what we do when we enter the ocean. Sharks, like other creatures on land, don’t pick a fight. They will obviously defend themselves if cornered or feel threatened. Show sharks the respect they deserve and chances are they’ll return the favor.

**ADDITIONAL DATA**

In 2014, 33,000 Americans were injured in some way due to using restrooms. Sharks were responsible for a whopping 13 injuries. Just putting it out there…

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