Development[ edit ] Antoni Gabriel, a long-time aircraft enthusiast, took an aircraft mechanic's course during military service and on return home designed a single-seat, high-winglight, cabin monoplane.
Yet when most people think of these cartilaginous fish, a single image comes to mind: That generalization does sharks a huge disservice, as they have far more variety than that. They range in size from the length of a human hand to more than 39 feet 12 meters long; half of all shark species are less than one meter or about 3 feet long.
They come in a variety of colors including bubble gum pinkand some feed on tiny plankton while others prefer larger fish and squids.
They are found in just about every kind of ocean habitat, including the deep sea, open ocean, coral reefs, and under the Arctic ice. Sharks and their relatives were the first vertebrate predators, and their prowess, honed over millions of years of evolution, allows them to hunt as top predators and keep ecosystems in balance.
But sharks are in trouble around the world. Rising demand for shark fins to make shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy, has resulted in increased shark fishing worldwide; an estimated million sharks are killed by fisheries every year. Sharks are accidentally caught in nets or on long line fishing gear.
And because of needless fear spurred on by films such as Jaws, the instinct for some is to hurt or kill sharks that come near—such as the controversial shark culling in Australia. This is despite the fact that you are more likely to be killed by a lightning strike than bitten by a shark, and more likely to be killed by a dog attack than a shark attack.
Combined, these actions have decreased many shark populations by 90 percent since large-scale fishing began. All of this puts these incredible animals—and the ecosystems in which they play a role—in jeopardy. To protect them, communities and companies around the world are enacting science-based fisheries management policies, setting up shark sanctuaries, and banning the practice of shark finning and the trade of shark fins.
The smallest shark, a dwarf lantern shark, is rarely seen and little-known. Like other elasmobranchs a subclass of animals that also includes rays and skatessharks have skeletons made of cartilage—the hard but flexible material that makes up human noses and ears.
This is a defining feature of elasmobranchs, as most fish have skeletons made of bone. Cartilage is much lighter than bone, which allows sharks to stay afloat and swim long distances while using less energy.
Every shark also has several rows of teeth lining its jaws. Unlike people, which have a limited number of teeth in their lifetime, sharks are constantly shedding their teeth and replacing them with new ones. A shark can lose and replace thousands of teeth in its lifetime!
Not all shark teeth are the same, however. Some have pointed teeth for grabbing fish out of the water. Others have razor-sharp teeth for biting off chunks of prey, allowing them to attack and eat larger animals than bony fishes of the same size.
Sharks that eat shellfish have flatter teeth for breaking shells. Another defining feature of sharks is their array of gill slits. Unlike bony fishes, which have one gill slit on each side of their bodies, most sharks have five slits on both sides that open individually and some shark species have six or seven.
The gills extract oxygen from the seawater, after which the water is expelled through the gill slits behind its head. This is called buccal pumping and is used by many sharks that spend their time sitting still on the seafloor like nurse sharks Ginglymostoma cirratumangel sharks Squatina sp.
But some sharks are unable to pump water this way and, if they stop pushing water into their mouths by swimming, will suffocate. These sharks include the great white shark Carcharodon carchariasmako shark Isurus sp.
Speedy Swimmers Extreme close-up of great white shark skin denticles. The first is their unique skin, which is made up of millions of small v-shaped placoid scales, also called dermal denticles.
The denticles look more like teeth than typical fish scales and allow water to flow smoothly past the skin, reducing friction and increasing their swimming efficiency.
Swimsuit designers have even taken a page from the shark, creating a fabric that mimics the design of shark denticles to improve human swim times.
Whether or not that actually helps people swim faster is up for debate. Many shark species known for speed also have slim, torpedo-shaped heads, like the great white shark Carcharodon carcharias and the shortfin mako Isurus oxyrinchuswhich is the fastest known shark.In the blue shark study, water at the surface was around 79°F (26°C) and around 46°F (8°C) at feet ( meters)—that's a big difference!
It's likely that the sharks are willing to put up with such cold temperatures in order to hunt deep-water prey like squids and octopods, and then return to .
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