Sharks: 12 interesting facts about the sea fish

Sharks: 12 interesting facts about the sea fish

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Shark sightings on the east coast are on the rise as Americans flock to the beaches in hopes of cooling off.

In Massachusetts, there have been multiple sightings on Cape Cod in the past week.

New York has also seen an increase in sharks on Long Island. Nearby, a 16-year-old boy was bitten while surfing on Fire Island’s Kismet Beach on Wednesday.

The frequency of sightings and interactions has brought sharks into national talk days ahead of Shark Week, which kicks off July 24.

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If you can’t wait to build your knowledge about sharks through the educational entertainment campaign, here are 12 numbers-based facts about sharks.

Sharks are considered an elongated marine fish with a cartilaginous skeleton and a prominent dorsal fin.
(iStock)

400+ – More than 400 species of sharks are known to live in seas around the world, according to the Shark Research Institute.

1 billion – Marine experts estimate that the total shark population is about one billion, according to AZ Animals, an online animal encyclopedia.

“This means there is a shark for every seven or eight people,” the encyclopedia wrote in July 2022. “They can be found in every ocean in the world and in just about every oceanic habitat, including the open ocean, deep sea, coral reefs, shallow waters and under polar ice.”

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61.7 feet – Whale sharks are the largest living shark species. On average, whale sharks reach a length of 46 feet, according to the National Museum of Natural History. Some can even grow up to 60 feet.

Whale sharks are found in warm coastal waters around the world.

Whale sharks are found in warm coastal waters around the world.
(iStock)

According to a 2018 study by the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University — a Florida university — and the Maldives Whale Shark Research Program.

6 inches – Dwarf lantern sharks are the smallest living shark species with an average size of six inches, according to the National Museum of Natural History.

The museum said the species is “smaller than a human hand” and has “been sighted only a few times” in the northern part of South America at depths between 928 and 1440 feet.

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4,095 pounds – Great white sharks have one of the strongest bites in the world. A 2008 experiment led by Australian paleontologist Stephen Wroe found that a 7,328-pound great white shark could exert about 4,095 pounds of force from its powerful jaws, according to a study published in the Journal of Zoology.

Great white sharks can be found in almost all coastal and offshore waters around the world.

Great white sharks can be found in almost all coastal and offshore waters around the world.
(iStock)

5 – Most shark species have five rows of teeth, according to Delta Dental of Washington, a dental insurance company.

In a Shark Week blog post, Washington-based Delta Dental said some shark species can “have as many as 3,000 teeth at once” and “lose up to 100 a day.”

72 – According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, there are an average of 72 unprovoked shark attacks around the world. More than half of those attacks – 51% – happen to surfers and board athletes.

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Other victims have been attacked while swimming or wading (39%), body surfing or horseback riding (6%) and snorkeling (4%).

Warning sign for great white shark bite incidents, at Newcomb Hollow Beach in Cape Cod, MA.

Warning sign for great white shark bite incidents, at Newcomb Hollow Beach in Cape Cod, MA.
(Lindsey Nicholson/Universal Images Group via Getty Images | istock)

11 – In 2021, there were 73 confirmed reports of shark attacks, and 11 of those attacks were fatal, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

1 in 3.7 million – According to National Geographic, the chance of being killed by a shark is one in 3.7 million.

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100 million – Researchers estimate that 100 million sharks are killed around the world each year, according to American Oceans — an organization dedicated to coastal recovery, protection and conservation. This is largely due to large fishing nations employing “destructive fishing practices,” according to greenpeace.org, which cited an article from nature.com – a British weekly scientific magazine.

There are hundreds of known shark species.

There are hundreds of known shark species.
(iStock)

450 million – According to the Natural History Museum in London, sharks have been around for 450 million years.

The museum said the finned animal appears in fossils before the existence of trees and sharks survived five mass extinctions.

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98 feet – The megalodon, now extinct, is considered the largest shark species in world history. A 1909 jaw reconstruction compiled by American paleontologist Bashford Dean predicted that megalodons could grow 100 feet (30 meters) long, according to Fossil Era — a fossil supplier.

In this photo from March 16, 2011, kids look at the shark jaw of a megalodon, a prehistoric shark, at the Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.  The jaw is 11 feet wide and nearly 9 feet long, it consists of 182 teeth collected from rivers in South Carolina.

In this photo from March 16, 2011, kids look at the shark jaw of a megalodon, a prehistoric shark, at the Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas. The jaw is 11 feet wide and nearly 9 feet long, it consists of 182 teeth collected from rivers in South Carolina.
(AP Photo/Rich Matthews)

In recent years, scientists have lowered Dean’s estimate to 68.6 feet. Full skeletons have yet to be found, but megalodon teeth are often discovered around the world. According to the Natural History Museum in London, the megalodons reportedly died out 2.6 million years ago during the late Pliocene.

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