Americans have a fixation with sharks. The very name conjures images of primordial hunters prowling the dark abyss, teeth gnashing on the hunt for blood. We can’t get enough of them. From Discovery Channel’s Shark Week to the legendary summer blockbuster JAWS, to whatever this is:
We are crazy about these things. But shark is too broad a term. They come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. So let’s take a look and maybe you’ll find a new favorite.
1) The Great White
Let’s start with a biggie. This guy is what people think of when they think of scary, killer sharks (and for good reason). Size gives them an advantage in the water as they grow over 20 feet and weight over 4,000 pounds. Their jaws are legendary razor-sharp deathtraps and aside from killer whales, they have no known natural predators.
2) Goblin Shark
This variety is less well known. The Goblin Shark is a deep-sea creature that has to ambush prey to make up for its slow speed. Scientists believe it’s changed little in the last 125 million years, and often refer to it as a “living fossil”.
3) Tiger Shark
Also known as the “Sea Tiger” these tropical macropredators are at home in tropical water. They tend to be solitary and nocturnal, and boast the widest food spectrum of all sharks (meaning they can eat the most kinds of things.)
4) Hammerhead Shark
The most notable feature of this iconic beat is their uniquely shaped head. These guys are often found swimming in schools during the day, but tend to be more solitary at nighttime, when they hunt. One of their favorite foods are stingrays.
5) Mako Shark
The Mako comes in two varieties: longfin and shortfin. While they belong to the same family as the Great White they are considerably smaller overall (only about 14 feet and 1,800 pounds.) Their name comes from the Māori language and sadly in some parts of the world they’re endangered.
6) Bull Shark
Also known as the Zambezi shark, these sharks prefer shallow warm water near coasts and rivers. Unlike some of their cousins, they thrive in both saltwater and freshwater and have been known to travel up rivers and show up in places you wouldn’t expect. Some have even made it as far inland as Illinois via the Mississippi River. Watch out, they’re notorious people biters.
7) Lemon Shark
Unlike some of the sharks above, Lemon Sharks are very social creatures. Not only do they swim in schools but they also maintain nursery grounds that they return to periodically to mate and give birth (they don’t lay eggs). Group life affords them a more complex culture of interaction that includes courtship, improved communication, and protective behavior. Not what you imagine if you think of sharks as cold-blooded killers.
8) Whale Sharks
Just like their namesakes these sharks are massive! The largest one on record was just over 40 ft long and weighted 47,000 pounds. They inhabit tropical waters and can live to about 70 years giving them a lifespan comparable to humans. Unlike most other sharks they are filter-feeders which makes them nonthreatening to divers.
I always knew there were different kinds of sharks but I never imagined they’d be so different from each other. What’s your favorite kind? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.