14 Reasons Sharks Are Terribly Misunderstood Creatures


1. First of all, it’s unfair to paint all sharks with the same brush!

First of all, it's unfair to paint all sharks with the same brush! Flickr: elevy / en.wikipedia.org / creative commons / Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

Sharks aren’t all big man-eaters, OK? Some are gentle giants, and some are nippy little bastards.

Sharks range from 40 feet long to just 8 inches. The largest shark, and indeed fish, in the world is the majestic whale shark. It floats around much of the world’s tropical waters feeding on the tiny shrimp-like organism, krill.


2. Despite being so big, the whale shark is a sneaky little thing.

Despite being so big, the whale shark is a sneaky little thing. Krzysztof Odziomek / Getty Images

The female whale sharks are especially sneaky. Sightings of whale sharks are 70% male, and no one has ever seen a female give birth. It is thought they travel to secret locations near remote islands and reefs to give birth, but no one can find them.


3. The dwarf lantern shark is the world’s smallest shark at around 8 inches long.

The dwarf lantern shark is the world's smallest shark at around 8 inches long. en.wikipedia.org

It is rarely seen and little is known about it as it lives in the deep sea. Like all lantern sharks it has light-emitting organs along its belly and fins. It uses these to camoflage itself in shallower waters and lure prey in the deep. Only tiny prey though, because it is tiny.


“But,” I hear you ask, “how do you know the whale shark and the dwarf lantern shark are both sharks?”


4. Well, neither shark has a skeleton.

Well, neither shark has a skeleton. commons.wikimedia.org

All shark skeletons are made of cartilage, like our ears, so they are strong and super flexible.

This lack of a backbone means they are particularly bad at standing up for themselves, another reason why ignorant people shouldn’t make sweeping generalisations about sharks.


5. All sharks have super badass teeth.

All sharks have super badass teeth. Stevenbenjamin / Getty Images

Sharks have multiple rows of teeth that keep moving forward like a conveyor belt, replacing themselves about every two weeks.

BUT #NotAllSharks have super sharp teeth! Sharks have different shaped teeth depending on their feeding habits. Sharks that eat shellfish have flat teeth for cracking shells, while filter feeding sharks, like our friend the whale shark, have tiny little blunt teeth that are basically useless for feeding. Some people think these useless teeth are used for “fin nibbling” during mating. Hawt. 😎


6. Shark don’t have scales covering their skin, they have tiny teeth. TINY TEETH. ????

Shark don't have scales covering their skin, they have tiny teeth. TINY TEETH. ???? en.wikipedia.org

Sharks don’t have regular scales, they have dermal denticles, which are much more similar to teeth than regular fish scales. The enamel crown, i.e. the toothy part, anchors the dermal denticle to the skin. This tooth-tastic skin reduces drag and therefore improves swimming efficiency.

Above is an electron micrograph of a lemon shark’s skin.


7. Sharks have super powers.

Sharks have super powers. Flickr: elevy / forums.station.sony.com / Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

Sharks’ heads are covered in special jelly-filled pores called ampullae of lorenzini. The jelly inside these fancy named pores reacts to super small changes in temperature, pressure, or electrical current. This combined with a shark’s insane sense of smell means that they can detect prey from up to a mile away.


The great white shark has been stealing the shark spotlight for years. But #NotAllSharks are such arrogant pricks.


8. The Greenland shark is as big as a great white shark, but it doesn’t have half as flashy a media presence.

The Greenland shark is as big as a great white shark, but it doesn't have half as flashy a media presence. Noaa Ocean Explorer

People might overlook the Greenland shark, because it can only swim at 1.7 miles per hour, and is basically blind. In a fight between an old lady and a Greenland shark, the old lady would have decent odds.

BUT this is very much a tortoise and hare situation. This thing can sneak up on super fast seals who are coming up for air through a hole in the sea ice. When it can’t quite be arsed to catch a seal it will eat pretty much whatever floats into its path, including dead reindeer and polar bears.


9. No one ever said the Greenland shark had a pretty face, but there is more to sharks than just looks OK?

No one ever said the Greenland shark had a pretty face, but there is more to sharks than just looks OK? Flickr: justinlindsay / creative commons

At up to 24 feet long, the Greenland shark is the largest fish in the Arctic. It used to be thought that it spent all its life in the cold water, but recently it has been discovered that these are the only waters where it comes to the surface, as they are the only waters with a cold enough surface temperature. But the Greenland shark could be common all over the Northern hemisphere in the deeper waters. There’s probably one behind you right now.*

Also don’t try and eat them. Their flesh is poisonous because it contains a weirdly high level of urea, because they don’t have any kidneys. Icelandic people get round this by burying them in the ground for a couple of years until all the urea has decomposed, but apparently this is quite the acquired taste.

*If you are in the deep waters of the northern hemisphere.


10. If you think the Greenland shark is a bit of a wallflower, then the megamouth shark is an extreme hermit.

If you think the Greenland shark is a bit of a wallflower, then the megamouth shark is an extreme hermit. mentalfloss.com

Even though they can grow to nearly 20 feet long the megamouth wasn’t discovered until 1976. To this day only 67 specimens have ever been sighted.


“Sharks are all brawn and no brain.” WRONG! #NotAllSharks.


11. Sharks actually have an excellent memory.

Sharks actually have an excellent memory. commons.wikimedia.org

Scientists in the University of Bonn, in Germany, trained grey bamboo sharks to remember shapes for up to 50 weeks. And they only stopped after 50 weeks because the scientists got bored.

If the shark pushed a triangular button with its nose it would get food, while nothing would come of the shark pushing the square buttons. The sharks were presented with different images of triangles, and since the memory had stuck, they knew which button to press. Because they are not idiots, they’re sharks.


12. Female sharks are strong, independent women who don’t need no man.

Female sharks are strong, independent women who don't need no man. Flickr: steve_childs / creative commons

The female brown-banded bamboo shark holds the world record for sperm storage.

Sperm storage is when the female of a species holds on to a male’s sperm long after mating, to use at a later date.

In 2012 a brown-banded bamboo shark gave birth to a live pup a full three and a half years after it could have last mated, like it was no big deal. 💁


13. Some of them actually never need a man. ????????????

Some of them actually never need a man. ???????????? Flickr: heatherhoesly / creative commons

Sharks have been known to have true virgin births. In 2001 a captive bonnethead shark, that had never met a male when she was sexually mature, gave birth to a live pup. Genetic testing futher proved that no male had been involved in the making of the baby.

Ladies, if sharks can do it, we can too… maybe some time in the very distant future.


14. You are more likely to die from falling out of bed than because of a shark.

You are more likely to die from falling out of bed than because of a shark. commons.wikimedia.org / en.wikipedia.org / Flo Perry / BuzzFeed

Like 600 americans a year die by falling out of bed, and on average less than 6people are killed by a shark every year worldwide.

There are 440 species of shark, and only 12 are considered dangerous to humans.

#NotAllSharks