Sharks are interesting animals. There are over 400 different species of sharks and they all have different traits that make them unique. While sharks are known for being quite fearsome, there are a wide range of sharks that are large, but docile. As a matter of fact, some of the largest sharks in the world are the ones that are the least harmless. Here’s more information about some of the largest sharks in the world.
The basking shark is known for being the second largest fish in the world. They’re filter feeders that eat tiny plankton. Since it’s a filter feeder, it opens its wide mouth and sucks in everything in its path. It can reach lengths of around 40 feet long and it looks quite an intimidating predator. Even though the size and look of the basking shark is quite fearsome, they’re very harmless. Basking sharks spend a lot of their time near the surface so they’ve been observed quite a bit. They don’t stay in one place longer than a couple of months so there are gaps in scientist’s knowledge of their life.
Basking sharks have a unique look. They have a typical shark form and body but they’ve been mistaken for great white sharks. The basking shark is unique because it has a cavernous draw that can open up to about 3 feet and 3 inches in width. It also has long gill slits that encircle its head and these gill slits are accompanied by gill rakers, small eyes, and multiple rows of teeth. When it’s been observed at the surface, the dorsal fin of the basking shark has been seen to lean to one side. There’s no color or pattern that’s been observed among basking sharks, but when seen, it’s been a dark brown, black or blue.
The whale shark is the largest fish in the sea. It can reach a length of around 40 ft or more which is around the size of a school bus. Whale sharks are filter feeders which means that to eat they open their large drawers and filter everything that it comes into contact with. It has a flattened head that has a blunt snout. Above its mouth it has short barbells protruding from its nostrils. It’s patterned as a distinct gray to brown with white spots and pale vertical and horizontal stripes.
It prefers warm waters so will sharks live in all tropical Seas. They migrate every spring to the continental shelf in the west coast of Australia. This provides a whale shark with a large supply of plankton. The whale sharks are massive but they’re really docile and allow swimmers to ride on them sometimes. They are listed as a vulnerable species because they continue to be hunted in many parts of the world. A lot of this shark remains a mystery so the maximum size of the shark isn’t known. Their births have never been observed and it’s never been seen where they keep the youngest of their populations.
Great White Shark
The great white shark has a very striking appearance. It has a robust, large conical snout. The upper and lower lobes on the tail fin are the same size, which gives it a larger appearance. A great white often has countershading which means they have a white underside and a gray dorsal area. This gives them an overall mottled appearance. The coloration makes it hard for prey to start because the shark seems to camouflage in their surroundings when they’re seen from the side. From above, their darker shade blends in with the sea and from below it has a very light silhouette against the sunlight.
One of the most striking things about the great white shark is its size. Female great white sharks are generally larger than males. Male great white sharks are around 3.4 to 4 meters long which means they measure about 11 to 13 feet. Female great whites are usually 4.6 to 4.9 or 15 to 16 feet long. Adults of the species usually weigh anywhere between 522 and 771 kilogram. This means there on average around 1151 to 1700 pounds. Mature females can have an average mass of 680 to 1110 kilograms or 1500 to 2450 pounds.
You’ve likely seen this shark before. It’s one of the most widely kept large sharks in public aquariums. Adult Tiger Sharks range in size from 2 meters or 6.6 feet to 3.2 meters or 10.5 feet in length. They can vary in weight also. The lowest they might weigh is around 91 kilograms or 201 pounds, but they can reach up to 159 kilograms or 351 pounds. This means they’re rather large sharks.
They have an appearance that is quite striking. They have a pointy head that’s nothing like the round ones usually found on sharks. The snout is flattened with a conical shape. Its body is stocky and bulky with a mouth that extends past their eyes. The eyes of the sand shark are small and they do not have eyelids. They usually swim with their mouth open which shows off their three rows of protruding sharp pointed teeth.
The males have gray claspers with white tips along the underside of their body and it’s called open is elongated with a long upper low. All sand sharks have two large broad-based gray dorsal fins on their back beyond their pectoral fins. The sand shark has a gray-brown back and pale underside.
The adults of the species usually have reddish brown spots scattered on the hind part of their body. There have been some albino specimens photographed in certain parts of the world. Another thing that is quite striking or their teeth. They are different from other sharks because they have a large, smooth main cusp with a tiny cut split on each side of their mouth. The upper front teeth are separated from the teeth on the side of their mouth by smaller intermediate teeth.
Great Hammerhead Shark
Hammerhead sharks are known for their unique T shaped head. It’s similar in shape to a hammer which is how they got their name. For many years the shape of their head has caused theories and many studies. The latest and most accepted theory is that it evolved so that the position of the eyes would improve their vision. They can see above and below themselves at the same time. The hammerhead sharks have a 360 degree view which helps them find food. This vision benefit and the efficient vertebrae structure allow efficient movements and a wide distribution of ampules over a large head area to give them a good Advantage as predators.
Other physical characteristics of the hammerhead shark are similar to that of the rest of the shark species. They have nostrils at the tip of their head and large eyes on the side of it. Their mouth is small and has serrated teeth that are located under their head. They have two dorsal fins and the first one is larger than the other one. They also have a different color belly than their dorsal area which is useful for camouflage when they’re swimming in the sea. The ventral region is light and the door so areas a light gray or greenish color to match the seafloor. There’s a broad range of measures along the species of this family. The great hammerhead is around 20 feet long and their weight is usually between 3 and 580 kilograms.
Bluntnose Sixgill Shark
The bluntnose sixgill shark, scientific name Hexanchus griseus, is a primitive species belonging to the Hexanchidae family. Its appearance is similar to fossil shark forms that date back to the Triassic period around 200 million years ago. Living species that are related to the bluntnose sixgill shark include the Greenland shark and the dogfish.
The bluntnose sixgill shark boasts 6 rows of teeth in its broad, flat head. There are six saw-like teeth on each side of its bottom jaw and nine smaller teeth on either side of the upper portion of its mouth. It has teardrop-shaped fluorescent green eyes with black pupils, a lateral line down its side, and one dorsal fin. The pectoral fins are rounded at the tip and have broad bases. Its pelvic fins have rounded tips and the anal fin is smaller than the dorsal fin. The shark’s body rounds out to a blunt and wide snout.
This large-bodied shark can grow up to 26 ft (8 m) in length but on average, full grown adults measure in at 16 feet (4.8 m). When the bluntnose sixgill shark reaches maturation, males weigh around 440 pounds (200 kg) and females are approximately 880 pounds (400 kg) in weight. The males reach maturity around 11-14 years old and females mature between 18-35 years. This species is thought to live to around 80 years.
The thresher shark is named for their long thrasher-like tail or caudal fins which can be as long as the total body length. They’re active predators and their tail is used as a weapon to stun prey. They usually have a short head and a cone shaped nose. They generally have a small mouth and the teeth range in size from small to large. There are three species of thresher shark and the largest is the common thresher which can reach a length of 6.1 or 20 ft long. It can have a mass of 500 kilograms also. The big eye thresher is next in size and it can reach a length of 4.9 meters or 16 feet. The pelagic thresher is only 3 meters long and it’s the smallest thresher shark.
Oftentimes, the shark is most commonly observed far from Shore. It can wander close to the coast while searching for food. Adults are common over the continental shelf while younger thresher sharks live in coastal bays and near shore waters. The younger thresher sharks are near the shores and coastal bay so that they can get food easily. It’s mostly seen on the surface but it inhabits waters up to 1800 feet in depth. Thresher sharks are observed infrequently jumping out of the water. They’re a highly migratory species, which means they move depending on the season and temperature of the water.
All of these sharks listed have declining populations. All sharks are important to ocean health, so it’s up to humans to make the necessary environmental impacts to save the sharks.