BY HEATHER MARLETTE
Wow do I suck with the being timely on the blog…my bad, sorry sorry. So, here we have it. I know you have been waiting with baited (ha, cheesey pun totally intended) breath. It is the top FIVE hcmarlette favorite apex predators of the deep. I can say that yes, the main 3 are in here, but I am thinking you may not be able to correctly guess # 1 shark in my majorly scientific and professional countdown. On the coolness of sharks. Okay, maybe not scientific, but you have to give me entertaining…
Coming in at number 5 is the singular most distinctive looking shark, the hammerhead. I mean, come on – even without any further information I am right here, it is a top 5 shark. Right now, you can picture it. You see the EXACT shape of its head. These sharks can be seen to be in large schools during the day – and these are massively large schools. They will often break off to be solitary hunters during the night hours. They are located largely in the Southern and Eastern African waters, but also have been confirmed to have large populations near Costa Rica, Columbia and Hawaii. They range from 3 feet to 20 feet long, and weight goes up correspondingly from 6.6 to 1,300 pounds. The feature of this shark that gives it its name is of course the “hammer” shape head that is more commonly known as the cephalofoil. This elongated head is believed to have many evolutionary techniques behind its shaping (thought you may be missing the cheesey illusions…) but the major and latest popular theory is this came to be to give the shark the 360 degree field of vision it has with its eyes located on the sides of the hammer head – though I think it is more anvil shaped. The trade off – disproportionally small mouths, causing the sharks to mainly be bottom feeders. The mating process can seem violent as it mainly consists of the male following and biting the female harder and harder until the female always copulation. Recently there has been some evidence of asexual reproduction possibilities.
Number 4 on the bad ass list of sharks is the Blacktip Shark – not the Blacktip Reef Shark guys, the Blacktip Shark. This is a truly stunning shark to look at. It has a combination of many of the typical shark characteristics, like a long nose/snout, a short, stout body the long gills the gray body and white stomach. They also of course have black tips on some if not all the fins, from the pectoral to the dorsal to the pelvic and on. It may give this shark the appearance of being outlined, and draws attention to the muscular body. This is a requiem, viviparous shark that can differ so much within the species there is no true average size of groups that they travel in, however it is believed they are generally in groups. They generally will be in the range of around 5 feet. The females give birth every other year, to anywhere from 1 to up to 10 pups, who live in a nursery in their youth, in shallow, calm waters. Often these grown females will return to give birth in the nursery they grew up in…which is, in my humble opinion, incredibly endearing. If caught in a situation lacking males, the females can reproduce asexually. These sharks are quite quick, but are known to be milder for requiem sharks, only becoming aggressive if they feel their food is threatened which has caused them to be classified as slightly more dangerous to humans in their presence, and have a number of reported attacks. They are on the Nearly Threatened List as well as most on my countdown, as they are popular query amongst commercial and recreational fisheries. The coolest feature of these fish is their trademark spin jump for fish skimming the surface that shows off the beauty of those black tips as well as the strength of this sea creature.
BA DUM, BA DUMP, BA DA BA DA DUH DA DAH. Yes. At number 3, not one so HA, at number 3 is Brucie boy himself – Mr. Jaws. Although, the story that Peter Benchley based that on actually occurred more in Jersey and is believed to have been a Bull Shark – who is still to come on the list – but ya know, it’s a cool transition. That is right. Number 3 is the Great White Shark. That is not white. It is grey. It has a white underbelly. Again, The Great White Underbelly, not the same appeal, nor effect. So, the Great White is of course mainly known world over due to its size, made legendary in Benchley’s novel and the movie adaptation, which is much larger than reality – though achieving lengths upwards of 20 feet this is actually quite rare, yet with an average length of 15 feet there are no shrimps in this species… This shark’s first known fossils are approximately 16 million years old and is believed to be the direct descendant of prehistoric sharks. The shark lives all over, with large concentrations in California, Hawaii, and Australia (Southern) and of course South Africa, namely Seal Island where we were introduced to Air Jaws. This shark is deadly if it attacks, with the force of an average 20 foot long specimen displaying a bite force of 4,000 pounds of pressure. However, little is known about these sharks, as they tend to be illusive to scientists. They more than any shark, for obvious reasons (re: Jaws – novel, movie and sadly sequels) this shark above all others have a reputation of being a “man eater.” The number of shark attacks and deaths resulting from said attacks is way too low to lend any type of credence to this theory. Great Whites do not seem to target humans, and often the attacks are a result of mistaken identity, the shark thinking the diver or person on the surface is some other fish or hopefully (to the shark) a seal. Often, as long as not caught alone, after the first exploratory bite that the Great White gives, a diver (or swimmer) can be saved as the shark turns to come back, or swims off completely. They do not survive long in captivity, usually dying or being released due to poor health within a year, and never achieving its great size potential. When you hear me say that sharks are simply insanely misunderstood creatures, these Great Whites are generally the species that I have in mind. I mean, they have the nick name of white death. They have a bad rap. Trust me; the evidence proves they are a scape goat for –
The Bull Shark. Number 2 on Heather’s Sharktastic list. These sharks are nasty (WARNING SWEAR WORD COMING)bastards. There is literally no other way to describe them. They are called the Bull shark (most popular name, they have others) due to their short stockiness, flat snout and their crazy unpredictable behavior. As I said, Bull Shark is the most typical name but due to their wide spread locations they have many names. They are most likely going to be the ones responsible for shallow water attacks, and it is believed that the number of attacks is much higher than reported, as other species get the finger pointed at them. They are vicious creatures who have the ability to survive in fresh as well as salt water. I would love to explain how, but I am not in fact that scientifically minded. I know it has to do with the way their gills filter the water and the chemicals in their blood adjust. They do not require much depth, the deepest it generally dives is barely to 500 feet, and prefers to swim at a 30-50 foot range. That’s what I have. They can be anywhere from 2.5 feet to over 7 feet in length, and up to 700 pounds. They have a bite of up to 1,300 pounds of pressure. The females tend to be larger than the males. These sharks do not play nice with others, being very solitary hunters, sometimes going up to hunt in pairs, never more. They are nasty, and will attack not only if they feel threatened, but if they feel another is encroaching on their territory. They are also viviparous giving birth to a few live pups after a 12 month gestation period, and are one of the species believed to become aggressive in the womb with the dominant pups attacking and eating the others before birth. These ferocious apex predators have no true predatory threat as they do not back down from fights and are larger than many of their fellows. Though some diehards still cling to the rouge Great White Theory, most in the scientific community blame this species for the 1916 attacks that inspired Peter Benchley, due to the attacks that occurred in salt and fresh water, and mainly in shallow areas. This species is also on the Near Threatened list due to the long gestation and low birth rate mixed with human predatory hunting.
Since I have gotten this to be lengthy somehow I have to withhold the number one Heather Shark. I know, there are tears, perhaps a few broken hearts. It is coming I promise – and it is already half written so it shouldn’t even take as long!! Really no promises though.