Thursday, August 23, 2012

Shark Week Redux

As you all know, I'm a people pleaser.

That was supposed to be met with sounds of agreement. Not crickets.
Okay, fine. I do what I want, especially when it comes to vlog and blog topics. But every-so-often, I am influenced, or inspired, by the people around me. The boys and girls, lovely and unlovely, smart and thick as bricks. Either way, life often delivers unto me all the tools and information needed to craft intelligent, witty and hilarious posts for you all to gobble up. (Sometimes I get hyperbolic)

Well, it was brought to my attention that my last blog topic, titled Shark Week, may have been a bit misleading. To be fair, I did say in the first sentence that it wasn't actually about sharks, which I imagine was very defeating. I mean, I know how amped up people get over sharks. They love them. We are absolutely head-over-heels in love with these amazing creatures. So, I understand the crestfallen feeling when someone looking for an article on sharks actually ends up reading an expose on female pipes and plumbing.

Sharks are way cooler than menstruation. Fact.

And that is why we are here. Again. But this time. I'm talking about sharks.


First and foremost, did you know that Discovery Channel's television program, Shark Week, originally aired on July 17, 1987. See, I didn't. I didn't have a clue that this week long extravaganza had been going on for so long. This event is held every year, normally in the summer months of July or August, and was first intended to raise awareness for sharks, as well as respect. These days it's pretty much the highlight of most people's lives. Screw having children and getting a house. Birthdays and Christmas have fallen to the wayside. Life revolves around Shark Week now. It's a phenomenon that has swept the nation. Actually, swept many nations. Did you know it is broadcast in over seventy-two countries? That's the truth. I'm not making that up.

So, what's with all the interest? Why are people so smitten with these razor toothed predators?

That's easy to answer. They are awesome.

But around these parts, I don't like to simply tell people what is awesome and have them accept it. Actually, that is what I prefer, but in the case of sharks, there are so many cool and astounding facts that I can give more information instead of just my word. So, here are ten amazing things about sharks. Are you ready?

1. Sharks don't have bones. I know, right? How weird. They are a group of fish characterized by a cartilaginous skeleton, which is fancy speak for - they are made up of cartilage. You know what that is. The stuff your ear is made out of.

2. These beasts under the sea are fast. So don't even think about entering a race with one of them. For the most part, sharks cruise at an average speed of 8 KPH, which is about five miles, but, when feeding or attacking, the average shark can reach speeds upwards of 19 KPH, 12 miles. The fastest shark, and one of the fastest fish, is the shortfin mako shark and he can burst at speeds of 50KMP. Yep, that's 31 miles per hour. Speed demons, these guys are.

3. The teeth of a whale shark, which is actually the largest in this family, is absolutely harmless. It will actually allow divers to hitch rides on their dorsal fin. Oh, and their teeth are no bigger than a head of a match.

4. One of the most interesting facts I've learned is that some female sharks can retain the male’s sperm in their bodies for use when she is ready to reproduce, even if that does not happen until next season. Can you imagine if women could do this? Well, technically, they can. Just freeze those little guys.

5. Classically, sharks are depicted as solitary hunters, combing the oceans for food. This stereotype only applies to a select amount of the species. And the sharks are sick of it. Even the solo sharks meet for breeding or at rich hunting grounds. The ocean is just one big office water cooler. The truth is, sharks can be highly social and remain in large schools. Sometimes more than 100 scalloped hammerheads congregate together. That happens to be one dinner party I don't want an invitation for.

6. Mother sharks do not feed the embryos growing in their womb. Embryos are expected to eat the unfertilized eggs and, when those are done, each other. If human reproduction was like this there wouldn't be any more octo-moms out there.

7. Apparently, sharks can smell a single drop of blood in the ocean from up to three miles away. If that's not enough to wow you, I don't know what is. Most people I know can't even smell when they've crapped their own pants, let alone someone who crapped their pants three miles away.

8. Much like humans, female sharks are bigger and more aggressive than males. You see what I did there? I made a bit of a joke. Although with the rising climb in obesity and the hormones in our foods, I wouldn't doubt the accuracy of my joke.

9. Most interestingly, sharks have several rows of teeth. When they lose one, another takes its place. A shark can produce up to twenty thousand teeth in its lifetime. They lose a tooth every other day.

10. Some female sharks have evolved so they have an extra layer of blubber to protect them when they mate, as the males like to bite during coitus. Kinky! Is there anyway that I can claim this is why I have an extra layer of fat? Please?

There are far more cooler facts as well. I mean, we would be here all day if I truly nerded out. Sharks are simply mind-blowing underwater dwellers.

Oh, and most importantly, they aren't as scary or aggressive as people like to make them out to be. I suppose we should blame Jaws for this one. Damn you Steven Spielberg for perpetrating the angry shark persona. The truth of the matter is, more people are killed by lightning strikes or coke machines falling over than shark attacks every year. Sure, sharks are highly effective predators, streamlined for speed and equipped with hundreds of teefies to eat you with, but they don't consider humans a delicacy. Unlike humans, who target sharks for all sorts of reasons, including their fins for soup and their skin for leather. Millions of sharks die every year at the hands of humans, but only a handful of humans die every year due to sharks.

Fearing sharks is silly. We should take a page from the Melanesians and Polynesians who revere and worship them, calling them the lords of the sea. I mean, don't get me wrong. Sharks are predators and a lot of them will eat you if they are hungry and you're bleeding in their territory, or three miles away. Still, there's no need to worry about it.

Anyway, I have this video to share. It blew my mind. I hope it blows your's too! The awesomeness is about 35 seconds in:

So, there you go, love. A blog about sharks. Just for you.


Anonymous said...

My daughter who is home from Oz for a short break tells me that the shark attacks in Oz are on the increase and what was once a protected species is now targeted as the fatalities are rising. Silly people who go surfing or swimming at dusk or dawn etc.

Cameron said...

First of all, that video is the best thing I've seen all day, and possibly all year.

Second, I'm going to claim the biting/fat thing, too. Makes sense. Less bruising that way. ;)

Tyson said...

@Pookie - Is there a reason they are on the rise? Is it because the water is changing and they are coming in closer to shore? I read an article about how the warmth of water and depletion of food is causing the predatorial marine life to come in closer, where they normally wouldn't.

@Cameron - it's a good reason. :D

Anonymous said...

maybe they get a taste for whatever is in their territory. They are swimming eating machines.