What is your favorite animal?
I really like sharks.
Like, on par with my love for Harry Potter (which, if you’re unfamiliar, is saying something). Fun fact: my original major was actually Marine Biology.
Sharks are amazing both from a horror and evolutionary standpoint. They’ve been practically evolutionary the same since the ages of dinosaurs. That means their bodies have been so streamlined that they haven’t needed much change in billions of years. However, some species have developed their own flavors of the shark model, and there’s such an odd variety of them too!
When someone yells “Shark!”, initially most people think of the Notorious Ones… Bulls, Tigers, Whites—oh my! Great White is the front-man for the sharks. They’re the most well-known, mainly due to modern media like Jaws and Shark Week’s favorite show Air Jaws, where you can watch these giants hurl themselves in the air like dolphins. Tiger Sharks are known for being the garbage disposals of the ocean. They will eat anything, and that includes the underwater camera right out of the hands of a diver (it’s on youtube)! Bull Sharks are my least favorite. Mainly because they’re the most dangerous in my opinion. Their scariest ability is that they can change how they regulate their water intake and adapt to freshwater. Yup. They swim up rivers. As far in as Idaho a good 700 miles in shore. They’re also the most aggressive. A Shark Week guest host was standing in a pod of Bull Sharks and one just took a chunk out of his leg while recording. They’re mean.
Great White - Tiger - Bull
There are some though that aren’t much bigger than your hand. However, these Tiny Ones aren’t any less dangerous. The Cookie Cutter Shark will leave 1-2 inch (2.5-5cm), or cookie cutter-sized, holes in their victims. Their teeth are like razors that grind back and forth in a circular sawing motion. The Velvet-Bellied Lantern Shark however is a lot less harmful, mostly feeding on smaller fish and shrimp. They’ve got big, cute eyes… and they glow in the dark. I wish I could glow in the dark (I say as I'm actively wearing both glow in the dark earrings and socks).
Cookie Cutter Teeth - Velvet Belly
Each shark has a secret ability. Some abilities have made these Specialists incredibly unique. The Tasseled Wobbegong is as funny looking as his name sounds (wobby-gong). He’s got bristles all over his face that look like coral. He’ll sit in a cave, waving his tail around like it’s a fish… beckoning others into the cave… it’s fine. There’s just coral and fish in here… it’s all fin—BAM. Lunch time. The Thresher Shark has a tail as long as his body. He uses it like Indiana Jones and his whip. They speed at a school of fish and whip their tail so hard that the water at the tip instantly boils and bursts out, stunning a small group of fish. The Hammerhead has so many electro-sensors in its flat face that it’s actually the world’s best food finder. Like a metal detector they sweep across the ocean floor looking for crabs, fish, and rays. The Mako shark’s prey is the ever fast tuna… so they’ve got to be faster. They’re the Usain Bolt of the ocean. His fastest speed was 27mph (45 km/h). My buddy the Mako can reach 42mph (68 km/h). Not quite as fast as Cheetahs though.
Tasseled Wobbegong - Thresher - Great Hammerhead - Shortfin Mako
Not every shark is a meat eating tooth-covered (no really, they have dentures as scales basically) death machine. There are some Gentle Giants. The 35ft (11m) Whale Sharks have a diet of primarily plankton a krill. They’re filter feeders much like the large nosed Basking Shark. Even the Giant Manta Ray is a shark. Rays are just flat sharks. Although the sting rays are a bit scary... and pokey.
Whale - Basking - Giant Manta Ray
Some sharks live alone. One may spend years without seeing another of their kind. Others may spend lifetimes. These Lonely Ones often know only the companionship of the parasites that live attached to the eye of the shark. As the parasite feeds, the greenland shark’s vision fades to nothing. Blind and drifting alone in the darkness of the artic ocean, food is scarce and difficult to consume once found. Greenland sharks make their way to the surface to feed on drowned polar bears, seals, and anything else that’s unlucky enough to find itself stuck on the wrong side of the ice. Then they sink back down to the depths, swimming vast open spaces of darkness.
There are some odd characters who live at the bottom of the ocean with the Greenland Shark. These Deep Ocean Freaks are as interesting as they are scary looking. They look like creatures out of a HP Lovecraft story. The Goblin Shark eats in my favorite way. Like the Hammerhead, he has a long snout with electro-sensing (totally a scientific word here) capabilities, but his jaw is that of a snake. I can't describe it. Watch the GIF in awe with me. The Frilled Shark is the only non-ray shark (at least that I know of) with no dorsal fin. She's also long like an eel and wears frills in her gills. Supposedly, the shrieking eels from Princess Bride were based off of the Frilled Shark, but I'm not sure how accurate that statement actually is.
Goblin Eating - Frilled
Even though every shark is unique and every species has their own trademarks that make them amazing, there are always my favorites… the Cute Ones! If you find puppies cute, you may love the nurse sharks. They’re known as the puppies of the sea. They’re commonly found cuddling with each other or if you like swimming with them, they love scritches! My absolute favorite though are the Port Jackson sharks. They don’t get very big and they lay corkscrew shaped eggs, they're super social and friendly, and best of all, they have mustaches.
Nurse - Port Jackson - Cute Port Jackson with some random diver and I am intensely jealous
What is your favorite animal?
What is your favorite shark?