Expand Your Shark Horizons

Plenty of Sharks in the Sea
Dr. Nermeen Dashoush, PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education
and Chief Curriculum Officer for MarcoPolo World School

Shark week is upon us! Whether children or adults, we are fascinated by this extraordinary fish. Sharks are generally associated with speed, sharp senses, and even sharper teeth. When we think of sharks, we usually imagine a famous movie shark, the Great White. However, the Great White is one of over 400 types of sharks in our diverse ocean. This shark week, expand your horizons and help your child discover lesser-known sharks.

Shark week
Most Abundant Shark… Well, Maybe

The most common shark in the world is a dog? Not quite - it’s the spiny dogfish! Found in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in large numbers, they are one of the most scientifically studied marine creatures. Spiny dogfish are named for their very sharp spines, located in front of each of their dorsal fins. These opportunistic feeders will eat almost anything they can get their sharp teeth on. They also show that there is strength in numbers. Spiny dogfish will team up and hunt as a pack and eat an entire school of fish. Their status as the most abundant shark is in question as humans have extensively hunted them for their meat.

Shark week
A Whale of a Shark

The largest shark is the world is a whale? Well, it’s a whale shark! While sharks are known as predators, this shark proves this is not always the case. Whale sharks are filter feeders. This means they swim with their mouth open to let in small sea animals, such as plankton, and then filter out the water.

Shark week
Sharks that Come Up for Air

Yes, the sand tiger shark is a fish and breathes through its gills underwater. However, the tiger shark still comes up for air, but not to breathe. This clever shark gulps the air to increase its buoyancy, essentially turning itself into a floaty. This allows the sand tiger shark to float still at the surface of the water and watch for unsuspecting prey. Then, this shark floaty goes for its meal!

Shark week
Live Birth Shark

Yes, sharks are fish and fish lay eggs. However, sharks are exceptional in many ways. While some sharks do lay eggs, the majority give live birth. Some sharks, such as lemon sharks and hammerheads, develop inside the mother through nourishment from a placenta. Other sharks have eggs that hatch within the mother’s body and even feed on their siblings for nourishment.

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