Sharks can be scary creatures if you don’t know a lot about them. Many people hear the word shark and instantly think of the move “Jaws;” a gigantic creature with about a million teeth inside its gaping mouth, ready to eat whatever (and whoever) crosses its path. But that’s not what sharks really do. In fact, of the 470+ species of shark in existence (that we know about!), only about 4 of them are responsible for unprovoked attacks on humans. Most of the sharks that can be found near where humans swim and play will take off in the other direction when they see a foot coming their way; not bite into it.
Those We Do Not Often See In The Sea
Truthfully, there are some pretty scary sharks out there; scary looking, that is. Not every shark is elongated and grey with a classic dorsal fin protruding from their mid-back while sporting a triangular fish-like tail. Though this is the image that comes to mind when we picture a shark, you might just be more scared by some of the lesser-known species of shark that swim in waters you might not ever see. With faces that only a shark-mother can truly love, take some time to look at some of these creepy creatures.
5) Frilled Sharks
A Deepwater fish that is rarely seen at the surface, this is a very flexible shark that moves in ways that are not very shark-like. They are long and slender, like a snake, often growing to a length of 6 feet (1.82 meters). In fact, scientists presume that this character captures its prey and swallows it whole, much like a snake does. This shark has a neck frill that looks very intimidating when flared out to ward off predators. Some refer to the frilly guy as a living fossil as it is one of the earliest evolved examples of a shark that has adapted well to its environment.
4) Thresher Sharks
The intimidating and scary looking thing about this species of shark is its tail; it’s half the shark’s length! Part of their dinnertime ritual includes using their tail to herd schools of fish into tight spots so they are easier to eat. The tail is also used as a weapon to stun their prey. They usually grow to a length of 10-15 feet (3-4.5 meters) but some have gotten up to 20 feet (6 meters). Of course, half of that length is tail, which makes them pretty scary to look at.
You have probably seen this shark exemplified in cartoons, due to its long, saw-like snout. They are not to be confused with the sawfish, though Sawsharks are still fish, just not that kind. The shark version has its gills on each side of their neck, where the fish version’s gills are beneath their bodies. Technically, these guys look more dangerous that they really are; unless you’re a crustacean or a squid. The Sawshark uses its sharp snout to cut through its prey so it can eat nice, tiny pieces for lunch.
2) Goblin Sharks
There isn’t a whole lot that is known about this scary-sounding (and scary looking) breed. Though we know that it dwells deep, deep down in the ocean, we don’t get to study them very often because of it. The main reason that scientists have been able to study Goblin Sharks at all is due to the few catches that have been made by deep-sea fishermen. Its snout is unusually long, protruding out from its face, and due to its deep-water dwelling and lack of sun exposure, it has a hue that is pinkish and semi-transparent. The thing that makes this species of shark scarier than most is its retractable jaw; its teeth and jaws actually protrude from its face like an alien creature in a horror film. Just remember; it lives way deep out in the ocean and your chances of ever seeing one in person are slim to none.
1) Megamouth Sharks
This shark was discovered in 1976 and is very rare to see. A Deepwater dweller, Megamouth has one distinctive (and scary-looking) feature; you guessed it, it’s his big mouth! It swims with its mouth open to catch prey as it goes by. Since there is little study done on this mega shark, we can only guess that its feeding habits are filter-feeding, like a whale shark. It draws in its prey with a ring of light-emitting photophores around its mouth; talk about going into the light. They are a very large species of shark, growing up to 18 feet in length (5.5 meters) and weighing in at 2.5 tons or 2500.20 kg! With a body like that, it’s rather surprising that there have been only just over 40 confirmed megamouth sightings since its discovery.
But Wait…There’s More!
These are only 5 species that look scary and intimidating, but there are plenty of others that are just as strange and even nightmarish. The Hammerhead Shark and the Cookiecutter come to mind. Even the sharks that were once occupants of our oceans, such as the tooth-filled Whorl Shark or the enormous Megalodon, left behind scary fossils that can only give us a glimpse into what amazing creatures they must have been to see.
So, the next time you think of a shark, you might picture a gigantic tail or a scary protruding jaw. Makes the common image of a shark seem less scary, no?
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.