Discovery Channel is talking all about the ocean’s apex predator on Shark Week, but can you tell fact from fiction in this year’s shows and advertisements? Brush up on your ‘fin facts’ and you won’t be fooled by the serial killer, attacker, and monster claims!
Fin Fact #1
Sharks have a distinct color pattern called countershading to help their massive bodies camouflage in the open water while hunting. The white on their undersides reflects light that is bouncing up from the ocean floor while the darker grey/blue on their dorsal (back) side absorbs light streaming in from above. So sneaky it gives a new meaning to hiding in plain sight.
Fin Fact #2
Sharks can detect even the slightest twitch of a muscle thanks to tiny pores on their heads called ampullae of Lorenzini. A fish’s muscle contraction generates a small electric charge. This charge travels through the saltwater due to the presence of sodium and chloride ions. The ampullae of Lorenzini pick up this charge and transmit it to nerves that signal the brain that potential prey is nearby. And NEWS FLASH- humans are not on the menu!
Fin Fact #3
Sharks can also detect the location of prey relative to their own orientation in the water thanks to a cool organ called the lateral line. It is structurally similar to the ampullae of Lorenzini but consists of tubes that run laterally in a line (thus the creative name) along either side of the shark’s body. The lateral line detects vibrations and pressure changes, so yes that shark definitely knows you’re sitting there staring at it.
Fin Fact #4
Sharks are beautiful apex predators that are crucial to the well-being of a marine ecosystem. Let them live their lil shark lives! Stop finning and supporting shark products, stop recreationally catch-and-releasing, stop culling, stop polluting, stop littering, and start respecting these creatures and their habitat. Fish are friends, after all.