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Friday Fun: Nature is Lit Edited

Heth Siemer Feb 14, 2019

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Greenland

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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

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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

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What is your favorite animal?
What is your favorite shark?

12 comments

Heth Siemer Feb 14, 2019

For those curious about the Tiger Shark and Camera comment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fu0Hya7TNoo

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Dave Theodore [Coyote Creek Consulting] Community Leader Feb 14, 2019

Fun trivia fact about sharks. If you like to fish in the ocean, you will invariably catch a shark at some point. I don't kill apex predators when I fish, so I tag and release them which involves bringing them on the boat.  

Given that sharks have some pretty impressive weaponry, you need to be careful with them around the boat.  A technique that I learned years ago was to stick their tail in their mouth.  When you do this, they will bite down on their tail and not let go while they are out of the water. This makes them very user friendly in and around the boat without fear of being bitten. You can easily measure them, tag them and then toss them back in the water like a frisbee.  When they get well down below the surface of the water, they spit out their tail and swim away. I've tested this with blue, thresher, sand and leopard sharks.

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Niklas Becker Community Leader Feb 15, 2019 • edited

I never heard someone use "user friendly" for fishes before.

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Heth Siemer Feb 15, 2019

Do you have pictures of this?! I've never heard of sticking the tails in their mouths. I know they develop tonic immobility when they're upside down...


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Dave Theodore [Coyote Creek Consulting] Community Leader Feb 15, 2019

Sadly I never have gotten one.  

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Nic Brough [Adaptavist] Community Leader Feb 14, 2019

I can't say that I have a "favourite" animal, there are so many I could write glowing reports on.  But I think I'd have to pick out the family we know as "cat". 

For evidence, have a look for pTerry Pratchett and Gray Jolliffe's "The unadulterated cat".  If nothing else, the explanation of how almost all other animals evolved teeth, armour, flight, etc as advantages, and all the cat did was laze around until some other animal had a brain big enough to work out fire and regular food supplies, then walked up to it and purred - clever little psychotic b*****ds the lot of them.

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Heth Siemer Feb 15, 2019

My bf has been trying to train our cat. I'm starting to think she's training him instead >_> Cats are brilliant.

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Larry Brock Community Leader Feb 15, 2019

Dogs have owners, cats have attendants.  :-)

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Scott Theus Community Leader Feb 18, 2019

I'm right there with you, Nic! I share my house with several, and take care of a feral colony that lives in and around my garage. 

I have a friend that runs wildlife safaris, and one day soon I'll be going along with him on his "Big Cat" tour. (https://peterswildlifesafaris.com/)

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Martyn Winsen Atlassian Team Feb 14, 2019

Wow I never knew there was so much to learn about sharks!!!

 

My favourite animal would either be a Dolphin or a Turtle.

Having swam with both (don't worry, kept a safe distance and let them choose to come near me or not) I am blown away by them.

The only other animal I would love to swim with is a whale shark.

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Heth Siemer Feb 15, 2019

My bucket list includes free swimming / snorkeling with Whale Sharks and cage diving with Great Whites.

Dolphins were my favorite animal as a kid. But sharks are more interesting to me now lol.

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Niklas Becker Community Leader Feb 15, 2019

I can't add anything more relevant to this thread besides;

Sharks rule!

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Andy Barker - TWNKLS AR Community Leader Feb 15, 2019

@Heth Siemer : GREAT Article. So nicely written and what a passion...!

I have sooooo many favourite animals.

One of them is the Wombat... they're cute... they're fluffy... and they expel square poo... I sh** you not!  (No pun intended. Hahaha)

Wom BAT !.jpg

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Heth Siemer Feb 15, 2019

WOMBATS ARE SO CUTE. 

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Jack Brickey Community Leader Feb 15, 2019

well my favorite would be dogs I guess since I have had so many thru my lifetime and they bring me such joy. I also like cats as much as they will allow me to. But if I was to pick one of the coolest animals I would have to say...

owls.png

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Robin C. Feb 15, 2019

LOVE all the shark pictures.  I've seen all of them before except the Tasseled Wobbegong.  That's a brand new one for me.  I like whale sharks best, I think.

As for other mammals, birds, whatever, I have to admit to liking Cockatoos.  I have a Goffin Cockatoo named Tasha.  She has the intelligence of about an 18-month-old child.  She only says a few phrases, and mostly only my husband and I understand them.  "Night-night time" when she's tired and ready for her cage to be covered; "peanuts" when she wants anything to eat, and what we call "I'll be good".  That's just three syllables she offers when she wants out of her cage and we tell her to "ask nicely" instead of yelling. 

Gotta love me.jpg

Other adorable animals are red pandas, young hedgehogs and baby seals.  

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Heth Siemer Feb 15, 2019

My bf loves birds about as much if not more than how I love Sharks. He used to volunteer in a bird sanctuary. I've never owned a bird, I've never had a friend who's owned a bird, I've met one pet bird in my life and he wasn't very well behaved (he liked to rip hair out of people's heads)... but I've agreed to a Grey Parrot in our next apartment (this one doesn't allow birds). I know nothing about birds so that's going to be an interesting experience. I've been watching a whole bunch of bird videos because of it. Birds are freaking smart.

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Robin C. Feb 15, 2019

African greys are amazing; they seem to have the intelligence of four or five year old child.  I knew someone with a Congo Africa Grey (CAG) and one with a smaller Timneh African Grey (TAG).  Both said the bird adopted one person in the household as "theirs" and barely tolerated other people.  What was funny was that both birds liked to imitate household sounds like phones, timers on stoves/microwaves, and anything that beeped or squealed.   The CAG did a great imitation of their dog barking as well.

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Karen OKeefe Feb 15, 2019 • edited

I LOVE  animals. Especially the babies. I have a real fondness for goats. They crack me up...and they are pretty smart.

Dogs are my favorite animal though. You haven't truly lived until you have been loved by a dog. You serve cats, but a dog will literally die to save you.

As for sharks, I was snorkeling in New Zealand and spotted a baby nurse shark, so, naturally, I swam toward it. I yelled to the boat that i had spotted a shark--and that it was a baby nurse shark, and my sister yelled for me to get out of the water. I continued swimming toward the shark and the snorkel master jumped in the water and joined me. She hadn't seen one in all the years she had been leading snorkeling in the area. We never did find the mother--and we stayed a fair distance away. It was pretty cool. Nurse sharks are harmless.

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Scott Theus Community Leader Feb 18, 2019

"Nurse sharks are harmless..."

....unless you step on them.

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Scott Theus Community Leader Feb 19, 2019
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Heth Siemer Feb 19, 2019

DUDE WHAT IF SHARKS CURE CANCER?!

"Sequencing studies suggest these superior cancer-fighting abilities come from clusters of genes that serve to protect the integrity of the genetic code itself, a trait known collectively as genome stability."

Do we have more research on this "genome stability"? Can we get these clusters into a person with Cancer? Or make a drug that is based on that?

Sharks are dope. I enjoyed this article.

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Jodi LeBlanc Community Leader Feb 23, 2019

My favourite animal is a dog, in particular my dog Max. Dogs love us more than they love themselves, and demonstrate so much loyalty and companionship. They are always happy to see us, no matter if we were just outdoors for five minutes. 

As for sharks, I had to dissect a small dogfish mud shark (Squalus acanthias) in University and learned a lot about them. Then when I was in Florida I paddle boarded with several of them (at least that is what I was told they were). So I guess that would be my favourite shark.

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Bianca Encinas Atlassian Team Feb 27, 2019

@[Trello Leader] Jodi LeBlanc agree 💯about dogs! It makes me cry how earnest and loving they can be.

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Jodi LeBlanc Community Leader Feb 28, 2019

Me too! The love of a dog is like no other ❤️

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Bianca Encinas Atlassian Team Feb 27, 2019

Ooo! This is hard. If you had asked me a year ago I'd have said orca whales bc of their personality traits but I adopted my dog a year ago and I have never been SO IN LOVE. So now I'll say that dogs are my favorite animals.

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