Get over your fear of sharks!

Sharks have always been one of the most feared creatures, not just in the ocean, but on the entire planet.  And movies like Jaws and Deep Blue Sea have completely demonized them and destroyed their image for several generations.

But interestingly, there are so many sea creatures way more dangerous than sharks. What is most important for everyone to understand is that when a shark or any other sea creature attacks us, we can’t blame them because we’re the ones in their territories, invading their privacy. That is why it is so important to respect marine life when diving or snorkeling. Discipline is everything. Be calm, swim gently and observe from a good distance. Never touch the corals or fish or create chaos in the water.

It’s high time we got rid of the evil image of sharks created by movies, myths and folklore. There is no better place to get over one’s fear of sharks than Maldives. Sources say there are over 26 species of sharks in Maldives and there hasn’t been a shark attack recorded since 1976. No wonder why Maldives is famed as one of the best and safest dive destinations in the world.

The trick to doing anything is being thorough. Before going to a dive destination, read as much information as possible about the place. Read about the fish and corals found in the place. Being well prepared gives you confidence.

Would it help if we told you that there are so many other animals and natural causes that are more likely to kill you than sharks? This will totally change your perspective of sharks. About 2.5 million people die each year out of which more than half a million die of heart disease, half a million of cancer, about 150,000 of respiratory diseases, 130,000 of accidents, and the list goes on. But only about 5 people die of shark attacks per year due to provoked and unprovoked attacks. Unprovoked attacks are rarely fatal though.

Now let’s look at look at other statistics – death from other animals, those less intimidating than sharks. According to various sources mosquitoes kill nearly half a million people each year spreading various diseases. Bees kill 53 people in the US each year due to allergic reaction after being stung. Dogs kill 35 people each in the US and ants kill about 20 to 25 people each year. Still think sharks are monstrous beasts? Nope! On the contrary, sharks are beautiful creatures that play a very important role in the ocean. The more we read about them the more fascinating they become.

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Interesting facts about sharks:

  • There are over 400 different species of sharks
  • Scientists can tell the age of a shark by counting the rings on its vertebrae (similar to how they can tell how old a tree is by counting its rings!)
  • Until the 16thcentury they were known to seafarers are “sea dogs”
  • Baby sharks are called pups
  • New research shows that sharks may be colorblind
  • You are 1,000 times more likely to drown at sea than to beattacked by a shark
  • In Fiji and the Solomon Islands it is forbidden to eat sharks
  • Shark skeletons are made of cartilage and not bone, allowing for better flexibility
  • Shark teeth have been thought to inspire the first tools created by humans, and were often used as tools themselves
  • Sharks are often studied to help human ailments, they are thought to hold the key to everything from fighting tumors (which they do not get) to helping prevent clotting and heart disease with their blood and have incredible immune systems
  • Sharks are closely related to stingrays
  • The most dangerous sharks are the Great White Shark, the Hammerhead Shark, the Tiger Shark, the Mako Shark and the Bull Shark
  • Sharks wounds heal quickly
  • Nurse Sharks are thought to be the laziest sharks, they refuse to move in cold months, have a limited diet and don’t need to move to breathe like other sharks
  • Unlike most animals sharks can move both their upper and lower jaws
  • Funnily enough the largest sharks tend to be the most harmless, they eat plankton by swimming with their jaws wide open
  • Some sharks have eyes similar to a cat’s, with a mirror-like layer that allows them to see better in murky water
  • Zebra Sharks actually look more like leopards with black spots, but lose the spots as they mature
  • Sharks can feel vibrations in the water due to a line of canals that go from its head to its tail, these canals are filled with sensory cells growing hair, the hair moves when the water vibrates allowing them to quickly locate prey
  • Shark Fin soup is a popular and traditional delicacy in Asia, Hawaii and Australia but the practice of finning sharks is adding to the rapid decline of sharks and hurtful to the animals. Up to 73 million sharks are killed a year for their fins
  • In Iceland Rotten Shark or ‘Hakarl’ is a traditional dish served during the Midwinter Festival – but not particularly popular with visitors! Accounts vary, some say it tastes like cheese, others say it’s practically inedible
  • Shark skin is touch and hard and before the invention of sandpaper it was used to polish wood
  • They have a sensory organ called ‘ampullae of Lorenzini’ that allows them to feel electrical currents in the water
  • Sharks can smell a drop of blood in 1 million drops of water
  • Sharks never run out ofteeth, if they lose one another spins forward from rows and rows of backup teeth – A shark may grow and lose 20, 000 teeth in its lifetime!
  • A shark can hear a fish in the water more than a million miles away
  • Most of today’s sharks developed 64 million years ago – when the dinosaurs were around!

Image credits: Top, by Norman Jean Roy on Harper’s Bazaar (link)

 

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