The very first thought that comes to our mind when we think of a shark is a scary huge underwater creature that takes seconds to tear us apart with their jaws. The shark is considered to be the largest fish in the sea belonging to the Chondrichthyes class of fish. The characteristics of a shark are that it has a cartilaginous skeleton, five to seven gill slits and pectoral fins. The existence of sharks dates back to more than 300 million years.
Speaking of the types of sharks, there are about 400-500 species of sharks. A surprising fact about sharks is that not all sharks are dangerous to humans. Also, you will notice that some sharks are small in size and only a few inches long. Here we are going to share 15 popular shark species and some of their facts that you may want to learn more about.
15 species of sharks – features and facts
Below is the list of the 15 most popular shark species along with some features and facts about them.
1. Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus)
The oceanic whitetip sharks are huge sharks with distinctive round and white-tipped fins. These slow-moving sharks are said to be active both during the day and at night. They are found in deep oceans far from shore. These shark species live in both tropical and subtropical waters. Also, the oceanic whitetip sharks continue to swim very deep in the water and prefer warm waters. These sharks are very aggressive making them fierce predators.
2. Whale shark (Rhincodon typus)
The whale shark is popular as the largest variety of sharks and as the largest species of fish in the world. The maximum length of a whale shark can be up to 65 feet while the maximum weight can be up to 75,000 pounds. The interesting thing about the whale shark is that this huge creature depends on the smallest creatures in the ocean (such as crustaceans and plankton) for its food. These sharks are usually found in the deep waters of the ocean. You can find whale sharks in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, mostly in warm waters. There is hardly any threat to humans from these giant whale sharks.
3. Mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus)
The shortfin mako shark Also known as the blue pointer or bonito shark, it is the fastest-swimming shark species on Earth, thanks to its bullet-shaped body that contributes to its speed. According to a study conducted in the late 1990s, these sharks recorded a maximum travel speed of 40 mph. These large cylindrical sharks can leave behind some sports cars when it comes to speed. Short-finned mako sharks are considered the most intelligent of all shark species, thanks to their fast learning ability. These shark species are found in Panama City Beach.
4. Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)
nurse sharks are usually found on the ocean floor because they are bottom dwellers. They boast high tolerance levels when it comes to human intervention. These shark species are the most inactive shark species. These non-aggressive sharks sleep during the day and try to find small creatures for their food at night. They mainly feed on squids, shells and sea urchins. This species of shark is usually found in coastal areas on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
5. Silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis)
The silky shark is known by various names such as the black shark, the ridgeback shark, the gray whale shark, the sickle shark, the olive shark. These sharks are so named because of the silky texture of their skin. These sharks are slender and long, usually growing to an average length of 12 feet. These sharks are more popular because of their strong hearing. Silky sharks fall on the endangered shark species list. As for their life expectancy, it is about 22 years. The gestation period of silk sharks is about 1 year and about 15 to 20 pups are born at a time. This shark species is abundant in the pelagic zone and in tropical waters around the world.
6. Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier)
tiger shark has tiger-like stripes on its body, as the name suggests. However, these stripes fade after the shark reaches adulthood. These sharks mostly depend on seafood, including fish, seals, dolphins, turtles and some other aquatic animals for their food. They are said to eat anything, be it dead animals or some garbage. The tiger sharks are huge sharks that grow to a maximum length of 18 feet and a maximum weight of up to 2000 pounds. Tiger sharks are said to be more harmful to humans compared to other shark species. They are mainly found in tropical and subtropical regions.
7. Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)
The great white shark is the largest of all underwater (ocean) predatory sharks. As such, this shark helps control the numbers of sea lions and elephants in the ocean, due to its fearsome image. The length of the great white shark is about 20 feet and it weighs about 6600 pounds. According to National Geographic, great white sharks are capable of detecting a single drop of blood in 25 gallons of water, up to 3 miles away. These sharks depend on various sea creatures, including smaller sharks. These sharks are found in tropical and temperate waters around the world.
8. Bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas)
bull sharks have enormous bodies and, because of their strong bite, pose a major threat to humans in particular. They show a lot of aggressive behavior not only towards humans but also towards other shark species. These sharks can grow to a maximum length of 11.5 and a maximum weight of up to 500 pounds. The bull sharks can thrive not only in freshwater, but also in saltwater areas.
9. Lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris)
lemon sharks are so named because of their light-colored, brownish-yellow skin. And this yellow color of the sharks helps them blend in with their habitat, protecting them from hunters. The visibility of these sharks is very poor. Yet they can still find and catch their prey, thanks to their noses with magnetic sensors. The lemon sharks can grow to a maximum length of about 11 feet. They are usually found in shallow water. This is one of the most extensively researched shark species, as they can be held captive for extended periods of time.
10. Hammerhead shark (Sphyrnidae)
There are a number of types hammerhead sharks that make up the Sphyrnidae family, such as the hammerhead, scoophead, winghead, great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, and bonnethead sharks. These sharks have a typical hammer-like head structure. Their eyes are placed so that they can see 360 degrees. To date, nine species of hammerhead sharks have been discovered. These sharks are found in tropical and warm temperate oceans of all continents (except Antarctica).
11. Dwarf Lantern Shark (Etmopterus perryi)
Dwarf Lantern Shark, as the name suggests, is the smallest shark species found on the planet. This shark species was first identified in the year 1964 after the US Fish and Wildlife Service left with their investigation. These sharks grow to a maximum length of 20 cm. They are more popular as bioluminescent varieties, which allow them to produce their own light.
12. Pocket shark (Mollisquama parini and Mollisquama mississippiensis)
Pocket sharks got their name from the pockets on both gills. This species was discovered in 1979 by a group of researchers in deep water a few kilometers off the coast of Chile. Since the shark species were small and had pockets in both gills, they were given the name pocket shark or mollisquama parini. They grow to a maximum length of 14 cm and weigh only 14.6 g.
13. Gray Reef Shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos)
The gray reef sharks depend on free-swimming bony fish and cephalopods for their food. These sharks are usually found in shallow water near coral reefs. These sharks can grow up to 5-6 feet in length and weigh up to 66 pounds. This shark species poses a threat to commercial fisheries because of its small size. As such, experts say these sharks could be placed on the endangered shark species list very soon. These sharks have an amazing sense of smell and very sharp teeth.
14. Leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata)
leopard sharks are mostly found off the coast of California. They are known as leopard sharks because of the dark spots on their skin. These sharks are said to pose no human threat. These sharks grow to a maximum length of 4.9 feet. San Diego Zoo suggests there is no record to date of a leopard shark killing anyone.
15. Sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus)
The seven gill sharks have thick bodies along with seven gills on their body side unlike most sharks which have five gills. These sharks are also known as ‘cow sharks’. The seven gill sharks depend on octopuses, bony fish, rays and a few other sharks for their food. These sharks have unique teeth: the teeth of the upper jaw are pointed, while the teeth of the lower jaw are comb-shaped. According to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, there are no records of sevengill shark attacks in the water.
I hope this article can help you to learn more about the popular shark species and their species.