Words || Georgia Drinan
I’m gonna preface this article by letting you in on a secret: I really, really, like sharks. Sharks are the greatest. Sharks are really fucking cool. And Shark Week is the mother fucking highlight of my YEAR. But apparently a lot of people don’t share my feelings about sharks.
A lot people are WRONG, because sharks are great, and to show you how great they are I have put together my ALL TIME LIST OF COOL FACTS YOU NEVER ASKED FOR ABOUT SHARKS.
Shark fact #1: Great white sharks are born with a full set of teeth.
Great white sharks have teeth in utero, and swallow their own teeth in the womb, because they are efficient as fuck and it’s not cool to waste calcium or to go leaving teeth in a womb. Sharks are considerate.
As soon as the pups (Yeah, they’re called pups. Adorable.) are born, they are IMMEDIATLEY able to start taking care of themselves. None of this helpless infancy shit that mammals have got going on. A shark pup is born and straight away swims away from its mother to start hunting.
Shark fact #2: We’re still not reeeeaaally sure if sharks can sleep or not.
While some species of shark, like the Great White, need to be constantly moving in order to get water to their gills and breathe, other species like the Port Jackson and the Nurse Shark have adapted spiracles that force water to their gills, allowing them to stay still and rest for short periods of time but still breathe.
Do they sleep while they’re chilling on the ground? We have no fucking idea.
Shark fact #3: Male sharks have two penises.
For real. Male sharks have two penis-like organs, called claspers. Only one clasper is ever used at any one time, in case you were wondering. Shark sex is also super aggressive; male sharks will often latch on to female sharks with their jaws to make their intentions known. Because of this, female sharks have evolved to have tougher skin to withstand sharky affection during mating season.
Shark fact #4: Sharks can be hypnotised.
Sharks have this thing called tonic immobility, where a shark will enter a hypnosis-like state when the tiny sensory pores on its snout (called ampullae of Lorenzini) are stimulated, or when a shark is gently flipped onto its back. As soon as the stimulus is removed, a shark returns to its normal state immediately. Nobody is exactly sure why sharks do this, but it has been hypothesised that this is a defence mechanism; ‘playing dead,’ can deter potential predators.
Shark fact #5: Who needs the D when you got me?
Never tell a female shark to go fuck themselves. There are (rare) instances of sharks reproducing without help from males in a process called parthenogenesis, where the egg essentially fertilises itself.
Shark Fact #6: Electrosensitivity.
Sharks have the ability to sense electrical fields. They have tiny organs in their snouts that can pick up on the tiniest muscle movements and even the heartbeats of their prey. And that’s not even the coolest part. Because sharks can sense the heartbeats of their prey, they can tell which fish in a school has a weaker heartbeat than the rest, and eat those instead of the healthy ones. Pretty much if sharks get a choice they will only eat sick and dying fish and improve the gene pool for the entire ocean, because sharks are the fucking best.
‘Wow! Sharks are SO FUCKING COOL, Georgia! Look at all this cool shit they can do!’
I know, right? Amazing. I’m so glad you agree.
Hey, so isn’t it fucked that an estimated 11, 417 sharks are killed every hour by humans for various reasons? Especially when you consider it’s like 3 Australians a year, and like 8 people worldwide, that are killed by sharks in unprovoked attacks.
What can we do to prevent this? I’m so glad you fucking asked.
The most important thing you can do is to protect the oceans in general. Cut down on your plastics. Stop buying shit with micro-beads in it. Try not to use drinking straws, plastic bags, disposable cups etc when you don’t have to. Recycle as much as you can. Super simple stuff.
You can also petition your MP’s to have shark-friendly beach protection. At the moment, the main method of shark proofing our beaches are with nets which are placed in the water. Sharks, dolphins, and all kinds of creatures get caught in them and choke to death, and there’s no guarantee of them being safe as sharks can just, like … swim around them. They’re not very good.
We can use drones now, or hard nets that don’t tangle and choke wildlife. Mike Baird promised a $16 million shark mitigation strategy that was going to look into better ways of keeping our beaches safe from these gorgeous swimming machines, but this has not been implemented.
Don’t let your MP’s forget about it. Keep them accountable. Keep sharks safe. And, while you’re at it- protest shark culls, because shark culls are DUMB. (They’re migratory animals. You don’t need to kill them to make sure they don’t come back. They’re not coming back anyway. They don’t like people.)
You can also steer clear of shark-products. Fish sold as ‘Flake,’ or unidentified white fish-meat is very probably going to be shark. Not only is this bad to eat because of the high levels of mercury, sharks are so essential for our ocean, and being killed in such high quantities, that there really is no way to fish sharks sustainably. Sure, there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, but I don’t expect you to overthrow capitalism for shark week. Unless you were gonna do that anyway. By all means, go ahead.
Eat dolphin safe tuna. Don’t buy cosmetics with shark squalene in them. Reduce the demand for sharks to be fished. And don’t support places that do shark fin soup. That shit is fucked up.
Sharks are, for the most part, incredibly chilled out mother fuckers. They just wanna swim, eat some fish, and do their thing. The oceans are their home, and when we enter their home, we take a risk. We don’t have the right to mass-murder them in the names of keeping our beaches ‘safe’.
It would be incredible if, this shark week, you decided to do what you can to make sure these glorious bastards are here to stay.
Happy shark week!