Happy Wednesday everyone, hope you’re having a good week. Today we’re going to look at three rather intriguing sharks that you might not have heard of before, after all there are four hundred species of shark.
Shark 1 – Thresher Shark
Thresher sharks are certainly different looking. They have a long unique tail that they use like a whip to stun and catch their prey. There are three different types of thresher sharks, the common, the pelagic and the bigeye. They’re big too, being known to grow up to 20ft long and weighing in at over 500 kilograms.
Thresher sharks have to stay clean to survive. They often get sick from pea-sized parasites called copepods, which attach themselves to the shark’s gill filaments. In order to rid themselves of these parasites, thresher sharks come to cleaning stations. These cleaning stations are almost like car washes for sharks and other large fish. The small fish that live there, like the cleaner wrasse, feed on parasites and dead skin while the sharks cruise patiently. The wrasse can even go into the sharks’ mouths to clean extra food and bacteria from their teeth. The sharks and large fish hold off on eating the fish that are cleaning them. It’s as if there’s a truce between predator and prey at these cleaning stations, allowing the threshers to get clean and the wrasse to get breakfast!
Thresher sharks are found all over the world, with common threshers being the most widespread, followed by pelagic and bigeye thresher sharks. The Monad Shoal near the Philippine Island of Malapascua is reported to be the only place on Earth where divers can spot thresher sharks on a regular basis.
Threshers are known to be solitary creatures and have a vulnerable status on the IUCN red list. There status is partly due to their tails getting stuck in fishing nets and then they unfortunately drown. Threshers live mainly on a diet of schooling fish as well as squid and cuttlefish. Below is a video of these amazing sharks at work.
Shark 2 – Epaulette Shark
Most sharks live in the deeper parts of the ocean but this one negotiates the tricky territory of coastal reefs. The Epaulette shark lives on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and has some really cool tricks to cope with the changing water levels and high temperatures.
Epaulette sharks range in size from about 70-90cm the largest epaulette shark found was 107cm. They have a diet of mostly crab and other small creatures found on the reef.
Unlike any other shark, the Epaulette has an uncanny ability to walk. It uses its fins as prototype legs to crawl over the exposed reef between rockpools that contain its prey. But no shark can breathe out of water. This is not a problem for the epaulette shark though, as it can survive 60 times longer without oxygen than humans can! In order to do this the little shark slows its breathing and heart rate and powers down its brain. Below is a video of the Epaulette shark showing off its amazing talents with the amazing David Attenborough.
Shark 3 – Hammerhead Shark
Now you’ve probably heard of these bulldozer sharks but how much do you really know about them other than their feature head shape.
First thing you might not know is that hammerhead sharks actually belong to a group of sharks in the family Sphyrnidae, so named for the unusual and distinctive structure of their heads, which are flattened and laterally extended into a “hammer” shape called a cephalofoil. Hammerheads are found worldwide in warmer waters along coastlines and continental shelves. Unlike most sharks, hammerheads usually swim in schools during the day, becoming solitary hunters at night.
Species of hammerhead range in size but can grow up to 6 metres long and weigh in at 580 kilograms. Hammerheads have disproportionately small mouths and seem to do a lot of bottom-hunting. There wide head allows them to have better binocular vision – all the better to track fast-moving prey like squid with far more accuracy than sharks with close-set eyes. Speaking of food the great hammerhead usually feeds on a variety of bony fishes. It may also consume other (usually smaller) sharks, crabs, skates and as previously mentioned squid. Perhaps its most unusual prey is the stingray, due to there sharp barb of tail this can make them tricky for the sharks. Although the main threat to the hammerhead sharks is humans but more on that on Friday for now lets look at them in action.
So which shark did you like the best? Let me know down in the comments or on one of the many social medias I have! See you tomorrow! Also huge thanks to the sharkopedia website over at discovery for helping me learn more about these wonderful creatures!
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