July 17, 2023
1. Many Sharks Species Are Endangered
There are more than 1,000 recorded shark and ray species in our oceans, and according to the IUCN Red List’s reporting, nearly 40% of those species are threatened with extinction due to environmental impacts such as overfishing, bycatch, habitat loss, and climate change.
Here at Adventure Aquarium, we are home to several species of sharks whose populations are all near threatened, vulnerable or endangered in their native ranges.
These species include:
2. Coconuts Are More Dangerous Than Sharks
Pop culture has trained us to fear sharks, but in reality, sharks are less dangerous than a falling coconut. That’s right! Falling coconuts kill 30 times more humans annually than sharks – it sounds nutty, but it’s true! In reality, when it comes to humans vs. sharks, humans are the far more dangerous predators, killing approximately 100 MILLION sharks every year in fisheries. In comparison, only about five humans are killed each year as a result of shark attacks.
3. Sharks Can Lose More Than 30,000 Teeth In A Lifetime
Sharks are known for their pearly whites, but did you know that a shark can shed more than 30,000 teeth over its lifespan? Unlike humans, who have a single set of 32 permanent teeth, when a shark loses a tooth, another one will quickly take its place to ensure that these apex predators are always prepared for their next meal. If you were to peek inside a shark’s mouth, you would notice several rows of teeth behind their first row of chompers. These rows of teeth lay flat inside the shark’s mouth as a backup until a tooth is shed, and it’s time to fill in the gap!
Bonus Fact: If you visit the Aquarium during Shark Summer, you may notice our friend, the Scuba Tooth Fairy diving in search of fallen teeth shed by our resident sharks.
4. Sharks Can’t Get Cavities
Dentists recommend fluoride to help protect our teeth from cavities, but sharks never have to worry about brushing their teeth! This is because the surfaces of their teeth are coated in fluoride, keeping them safe from decay.
5. Shark Skin Is More Like Teeth Than Fish Scales
Sharks may look sleek and smooth, but their skin is actually made up of tiny v-shaped scales, also called dermal denticles, which are made of an inner pulp cavity and an outside layer of dentine, an enamel-like material (just like our teeth). With their scales being more similar to teeth than typical fish scales when a shark loses a denticle, it can actually fossilize over time, just like ancient shark teeth! In addition to being just plain cool, these scales also help decrease drag and turbulence, allowing sharks to swim faster and more stealthily while hunting for prey.
Bonus Fact: Olympic Swimmers wear suits designed to mimic shark skin to reduce drag and swim faster in competition.
6. Depending On The Species, Sharks Can Give Birth In Three Different Ways!
Sharks are one of the rare animals that, depending on the species, can give live birth, lay eggs, or a combination of both. When it comes to reproduction, sharks can be:
Oviparous sharks lay eggs protected by an egg case, also known as a mermaid purse. The female deposits the egg cases in the ocean, and once the pups are fully developed, they will chew themselves out of the egg. About 40% of sharks are oviparous.
Viviparous sharks carry their embryos to term and give birth to live shark pups. This is often seen in larger species like hammerheads and blue sharks.
Ovoviviparous sharks produce eggs, but instead of those eggs hatching outside of the body, the eggs are carried to full gestation. When the eggs hatch, the shark pups will continue developing inside the female until she gives live birth.
7. Sand Tiger Pups Eat Their Siblings In The Womb
While a female sand tiger shark is pregnant, the two largest shark pups inside her womb will consume their fellow unborn siblings. This practice, also known as intrauterine cannibalism, might seem extreme, but it helps ensure that only the strongest shark pups survive – talk about sibling rivalry!
Bonus Fact: Female sand tiger sharks have two uteruses!
8. Sharks Have A Sixth Sense!
Sharks can’t see ghosts, but they can sense what they can’t see. Sharks have a sixth sense that uses a unique organ called the ampullae of Lorenzini, which allows them to sense electrical stimuli and is especially helpful in hunting for hidden prey. In fact, great hammerhead sharks use their heads like metal detectors, waving them back and forth over the ocean floor to find and hunt stingrays.
9. Sharks Don’t Have Vocal Chords
Despite the soundtracks that follow sharks in the movies, sharks are silent creatures. This is because sharks don’t have vocal cords, making them unable to make noise like other marine animals such as dolphins, whales, or seals.
10. You Can See The Largest Collection Of Sharks In The Northeast At Adventure Aquarium
Adventure Aquarium is home to the largest collection of sharks in the Northeast, exhibiting species including a great hammerhead shark, Pacific blacktip reef sharks, silky sharks, sandbar sharks, sand tiger sharks, nurse sharks, bamboo sharks, and epaulette sharks. There are many unique ways to view and experience our sharks, such as our Shark Tunnel, which is the longest in New Jersey and offers a 180-degree view as sharks swim above and beside you. Once through the tunnel, guests can enjoy a walk across our v-shaped suspension Shark Bridge, which is the longest of its kind in the world.