Atlantic Sharp Nose Shark

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Shark Myths

   Think you know all about sharks? Well, here are some commonly held myths about sharks - how many do you think are true?

Most sharks are harmful to people.
Sharks must roll over on their sides to bite.
Sharks eat continuously.
Sharks prefer human blood.
Sharks are not discriminating eaters and scavenge the sea.
Whale sharks, the largest species of sharks, are voracious predators.
The great white shark is a common, abundant species found off most beaches visited by humans.
Sharks are not found in freshwater.
Most sharks cruise at high speed when they swim.
Sharks have peanut-sized brains and are incapable of learning.
Shark meat is poisonous to people.
All sharks have to swim constantly.
Sharks have poor vision.
Sharks are hard to kill.
A shark is a shark is a shark.
Sharks are trash fish.
The biggest enemy to sharks is man.
Source: Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, Florida

Now for some insight on the topic!

Sharks are trash fish - No Way!
Sharks are a critical part of marine ecosystems, a source for knowledge to help the human condition, and the basis of a valuable fishery.

Sharks have poor vision - Erroneous!
Sharks' eyes, which are equipped to distinguish colors, employ a lens up to seven times as powerful as a human's, and some shark species can detect a light that is as much as ten times dimmer than the dimmest light the average person can see.

All sharks have to swim constantly - Misconceived!
Some sharks can respire by pumping water over their gills through opening and closing their mouths while at rest on the bottom.

The great white shark is a common, abundant species found off most beaches visited by humans - Not!
Great whites are relatively uncommon large predators that prefer cooler waters. In some parts of their range, great whites are close to being endangered.

Whale sharks, the largest species of sharks, are voracious predators - Incorrect!
Whale sharks, which are the largest fish that ever lived, are plankton feeders like the great whales, thus the name.

Most sharks are harmful to people - Untrue!
Of the more then 350 shark species, about 80% are unable to hurt people or rarely encounter people.

A shark is a shark is a shark - Misconstrued!
There is no "typical" shark. The more than 350 species all differ in habitat, lifestyle and body form.

Sharks are hard to kill - Off Base!
Stress of capture weakens a shark, and so some sharks are easily killed in hook-and-line or net fishing.

Shark meat is poisonous to people - Wrong!
Although there have been some reports of people being poisoned by shark meat, the meat from the majority of sharks is edible and delicious when properly handled and prepared.

Sharks have peanut-sized brains and are incapable of learning - Fallacious!
Sharks' relatively large and complex brains are comparable in size to those of supposedly more advanced animals like mammals and birds. Sharks also can be trained.

Most sharks cruise at high speed when they swim - Invalid!
Although some sharks may swim at bursts of over 20 knots (23 miles per hour), most sharks swim very slowly at cruising speeds of less than 5 knots (5.75 miles per hour).

Sharks are not found in freshwater - Forget it!
A specialized osmoregulatory system enables the bull shark to cope with dramatic changes in salinity -- from the freshwaters of some rivers to the highly saline waters of the ocean.

Sharks are not discriminating eaters and scavenge the sea - Wrong!
Most sharks prefer to eat certain types of invertebrates, fish and other animals. Some sharks eat mainly fish. Others eat other sharks or marine mammals. Some sharks are even plankton-eaters.

Sharks prefer human blood - False!
Most sharks don't appear to be especially interested in the blood of mammals as opposed to fish blood.

Sharks eat continuously - Preposterous!
Sharks eat periodically depending upon their metabolism and the availability of food. For example, juvenile lemon sharks eat less than 2% of their body weight per day.

Sharks must roll over on their sides to bite - No!
Sharks attack their prey in whichever way is most convenient, and they can protrude their jaws to bite prey items in front of their snouts.

The biggest enemy to sharks is man - Absolutely! That's why man must now do all he can to preserve them.

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