The bull shark is one of the fiercest predators in the ocean.
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Top Photo: The bull shark is one of the fiercest predators in the ocean. Photo credit: Martin Prochazkacz/

SHARK! It is a bone-chilling cry that sends swimmers and surfers alike rushing for the sandy shore. But are these creatures really the killing machines we have made them out to be? Every year, all across the world, sharks are responsible for approximately six human deaths, while it is estimated that humans are responsible for the deaths of more than 100 million sharks a year.

In fact, there are more than 500 shark species and over a quarter of them are threatened by extinction. Between overfishing, destruction of habitat, trophy fishing and shark finning – a cruel practice in which sharks are caught only to have their fins removed and then thrown back into the ocean to drown – humans are removing sharks from the oceans much faster than they are able to reproduce. This is a sad situation considering sharks have been on the Earth for more than 400 million years!

What would happen to our oceans if sharks disappeared? Sharks play an important role in maintaining balance in the ocean ecosystem. Their main sources of food include marine mammals such as seals, and a variety of fish that reproduce quickly. As a top oceanic predator, sharks help keep these populations under control. Sharks are important for the environment!

Sharks are apex predators, which means they have very few natural predators in the wild. They prefer warmer waters, like those off the coast of Southern California and Indonesia, but can be found in all the world’s oceans – including the frigid waters of the Arctic. And while we have learned a lot about them through research and study there are still many things we have yet to understand about these magnificent and misunderstood creatures. 

In all, sharks are creatures to be appreciated, not feared!

The giant megalodon had teeth that could grow as large as 7 inches long or more!

The giant megalodon had teeth

that could grow as large as 7 inches long or more!

By Francesco Volpi Ghirardini/

Did You Know?

Sharks shed their teeth constantly.

Some species lose as many as 35,000

teeth in a lifetime. However, sharks’

teeth vary according to their diet,

from sharp and pointy to dull and rounded.


Shark posing for a photo

Sharks Magnificent & Misunderstood

“Sharks: Magnificent & Misunderstood”

This exhibition opens on February 22, 2019 at Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium. Featuring hands-on interactive exhibits, models, and much more. This exhibit is fun for the whole family and a great field trip for school groups.

Smiling bobcat

Fun Facts

• Sharks have no bones. Their skeleton is made up of cartilage like the part of your ear that feels stiff but can be bent. Sharks only bite to see if they like the taste. If they do not, they swim away. This is why people are accidentally bitten by sharks.

• Sharks much prefer the taste of their natural diet – seafood and marine mammals!

• Sharks have the ability to detect electrical fields at short distances. Since all living things give off electricity, this puts the hunting shark at a distinct advantage.

• Flexible scales on the bodies of these predators allow them to change direction while moving at full speed. This is called “denticle bristling”.


To learn more about sharks, visit our newest exhibit Sharks: Magnificent and Misunderstood. To plan a visit or for more information, call 621-4516 or visit

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