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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Debunking Some Shark Myths

Today on Strange Cosmos, they had some "Strange But True Facts about Sharks. Unfortunately, it just proved that you can't always trust what you read on the internet. Verify, People!

Sharks can sense a drop of blood from 2.5 miles away. They can detect one part of blood in 100 million parts of water. (Close, but not quite. They can detect one part of blood in 10 BILLION parts of water, and they can sense a drop of blood in an Olympic size swimming pool.)

Sharks are so powerful that their bite can generate a force of up to 6 tons per square inch. (That is a complete and total guess. They've never been able to actually gauge the bite force of a Great White- they break the instruments before they can get the measurement taken.)

Sharks, in their 400 million years on earth, have shown an extraordinary ability to resist cancer and other diseases. This has raised hopes among medical researchers that the oceans' most feared predator might turn out to be the cancer patient's best friend. Investigators continue to study the immune system of sharks to see if it can provide the answer to stopping the spread of cancer in humans. (OK, so they got one right.)

Sharks can live up to 100 years. (Another guess for some species. Whale sharks are presumed to live that long or longer. Other, more reclusive species are a mystery.)

The biggest shark is the whale shark which can be up to 50 feet (15 m) long. It has approximately 300 rows of teeth, with hundreds of tiny teeth in each row. It's a filter feeder and sieves enormous amounts of plankton to eat through its gills as it swims. It is also the biggest fish in the sea. The second biggest fish and shark is the basking shark which is about 40 feet (12.3 m) long and is another filter feeder. (And Great White have been seen over 40 feet, but they don't mention that part, I guess.)

Sharks have no bones - a shark's skeleton is made up of cartilage. (Obviously, the author has never been to Sea World to see the HUGE shark jaw BONE hanging from the ceiling. Besides the jaw, they are entirely made of cartilage.)

The biggest meat-eating shark is the Great White which grows to be up to 21 feet (6.4 m) long. The smallest sharks are the Dwarf Lanternfish (6-7 inches), Spined Pygmy Shark (7 inches) and Pygmy Ribbontail Catshark (6-7 inches). (If the Great White can grow UP TO 21 feet long, how is it that one man has caught/located several specimens that are over 21 feet long?)

The dogfish sharks are named for their tendency to attack their prey as a pack of wild dogs would. (Got that one, too.)

The ostrich is often credited with laying the largest eggs, but the largest egg in the world was actually laid by a shark, the whale shark. The egg, 14 inches (36 cm) long, was found in the Gulf of Mexico in 1953. (Can't prove or disprove that one.)

Sharks can go up to at least 6 weeks without feeding. The record for a shark fasting was observed in an aquarium with the Swell Shark, which did not eat for 15 months. (Can't find info on this one, either. The first part is true, although it does make them quite grumpy.)

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