Hello friends! As some of you may know, today marks the beginning of
#SharkWeek, an event that I have some mixed feelings about. For every day this week, I’ll be posting some cool facts and art about different shark species to help balance out the fear-mongering and disproportionate focus on attacks, both of which have become too common in mainstream media. If you’re keen, please feel free to give these a share. I hope you’ll come to love these amazing animals as much as I do! #AltSharkWeek
#AltSharkWeek Day 1: The blue shark is a pelagic species found in temperate and tropical waters worldwide. Characterized by their sleek bodies, large pectoral fins and brilliant blue colour, these animals reach an average of 10 ft long and have been tagged at depths of up to 1800 ft! Unlike many species, blue sharks reach sexual maturity at a young age (5-6 yrs) and produce relatively large litters of 25-30 pups on average.
#AltSharkWeek Day 2: Today is #MakoMonday, a species I love so much I did my undergraduate thesis on it! Shortfin mako are the fastest shark, recorded at speeds of 74 km/h, and this is partially possible through endothermy! While most sharks are ectotherms (cold-blooded), mako are able to maintain a body temperature higher than the water around them through a network of capillaries called rete mirable, meaning miracle net. Despite their extraordinary evolutionary features, they’re listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
#AltSharkWeek Day 3: Today’s spotlight is on hammerheads! Did you know that there are 10 species of hammerhead? Named for their flat, hammer-shaped heads, or cephalofoils, these awesome animals are able to see in 360 degrees! Species like the scalloped hammerhead (pictured) are coastal and semi-oceanic species that cover a wide range of habitats, and subsequently, fishing grounds, which is part of why they’re listed as Critically Endangered.
#AltSharkWeek Day 4: Happy #WhaleSharkWednesday friends! Ranging through all tropical and warm-temperate oceans, whale sharks are found in both coastal and oceanic habitats. Despite being the largest fish at up to 20 m long, these gentle giants filter feed on plankton and fish spawn. They’re also known for their spotted patterns which can identify individuals like fingerprints! According to the World Wildlife Fund, over 450 individuals have been identified int he Philippines alone!
#AltSharkWeek Day 5: Meet the spotted wobbegong! Wobbegongs live in shallow tropical and temperate waters in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and are known for the dermal lobes around their mouths that act as camouflage and bait for prey. These nocturnal predators eat crab, lobster, and octopus, and have such large heads they’re able to create a vacuum to suck up their prey! I’ve been lucky enough to see one of these weird and wonderful sharks resting during the day in NSW, Australia, and I hope I’ll be able to see them again soon!
#AltSharkWeek Day 6: This little cutie is called an epaulette shark! Known to inhabit ecosystems such as shallow reeds and tide pools, the epaulette shark evolved to its dynamic environment by starting to “walk” using its pectoral and pelvic fins!
#AltSharkWeek Day 7: For the last day of #AltSharkWeek I decided to take a look at the bigeye thresher! Distributed throughout the world’s tropical and temperate oceans, these sharks are highly migratory. They also participate in diel migration, spending the day at depth and the night at the surface. They have large eyes that’ve adapted to seeing in low light and grow to over 15 ft long, with half this length coming from their upper caudal lobe, which can be used like a whip to stun prey!