Shark Biology | JONATHAN BIRD’S BLUE WORLD

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Jonathan explores the basic biology of sharks and what makes them different from bony fish including buoyancy, respiration, coloration, etc.

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Sharks have been around for over 250 million years.

The fact that sharks have survived for so long demonstrates the incredible effectiveness of their anatomy.

Over 400 species of sharks live in the oceans across many habitats. Some, like the Caribbean Reef shark, live on shallow tropical coral reefs. Others, like the blue shark, are pelagic, living far from land in the open ocean. The Greenland shark lives in the freezing waters of the arctic, while the Tiger shark prefers the tropics. Sharks are everywhere, but what are they?

Sharks and their close relatives the rays differ from the bony fishes in several ways.

Sharks and rays have a soft flexible skeleton made of cartilage. The cartilaginous skeleton makes the shark more flexible than similarly-sized bony fishes. Also, sharks and rays have no swim bladder.

A bony fish uses an organ called a swim bladder to maintain neutral buoyancy, so it can hover like a hot air balloon.

The shark’s lack of a swim bladder means that, unlike bony fishes, the shark tends to sink. To stay off the bottom, sharks have to keep moving.

While the shark uses its tail fin in a back and forth motion to provide forward thrust, its pectoral fins work like airplane wings to provide lift. Like an airplane wing, as long as the fins move forward through the water, they provide lift to keep the shark up.

Hammerheads must keep swimming at all times to force water through their gills. Ironically, if they stop swimming they’ll drown.

But many species of sharks sometimes stop swimming and rest on the bottom, gulping water to ventilate their gills. This is a Lemon shark, common in the Caribbean, taking a break resting on the sand. It gulps water to breathe.

Nurse sharks also spend a lot of time resting on the bottom.

Bottom-dwelling species of sharks like the Wobbegong actually live their entire lives on the bottom. They are camouflaged to look like a rock covered in algae, and they hunt by being very patient and waiting for an unsuspecting fish to come close.

With such a long evolutionary history, sharks have had plenty of time to refine their senses. For example, most sharks have an incredible sense of smell. Extrapolations of experiments on shark smell have suggested that some sharks can detect one drop of blood dissolved in as much as one million gallons of water!

Sharks also have senses we can’t even begin to experience. Sharks have an electrosensory system that allows them to detect the extremely minute electrical currents generated by the muscles of a swimming fish.

The snout of a shark is covered in tiny pores called Ampullae of Lorenzini, which convert electrical impulses in the water to an electrical signal in the shark’s nerves. Therefore the shark can “feel” extremely tiny electrical currents in the water—a skill it uses to hunt, even in complete darkness.

Speaking of darkness, many people believe that sharks have poor eyesight. Not true! They don’t see in color, but they have sharp eyesight, and super powerful night vision.

That’s because they have a shiny “mirror” called the tapedum lucidem located behind the retina that reflects light back through the retina a second time, increasing its sensitivity.

Many sharks like to hunt at dawn, dusk and night, because they can see their prey much better than the prey can see them.

Sharks are also the only fish to have eyelids. They’re called nictitating membranes and sharks use them to protect their eyes when something gets too close.

Sharks never need to go to a dentist, since they don’t really care about cavities. They have many rows of teeth. As old teeth break or become too dull, they fall out and new ones rotate into place. For the entire life of a shark, it never runs out of new teeth, and never worries about the teeth it has.

And you may find this hard to believe, but sharks are really important in the ecosystems of the ocean.

As top predators, sharks have an important role to play. And because they do not reproduce quickly, sharks are vulnerable to overfishing.

And while many people are afraid of sharks, most do not represent a threat to people at all. The world’s largest shark, the Whale shark, grows larger than a bus, but eats only plankton and small fish.

Even mean looking sharks with pointy teeth like the Sand Tiger prefer to eat fish and never attack people.

Comments

Tayfur Shakil says:

I am very much impressed …listening ur speaking sound & style as well…..to be honest it gonna be my learning process …

sharma mayank says:

funny. Bird talking about sea animals.

jialu wang says:

I wanna explore the ocean!

SITI RAHMAH says:

I have fear for sharks, whenever I swim in the sea, I would always swim near the shore. Thank you for sharing this informative video.

Archie Gray says:

176th one to comment

D Kogelnik says:

Jonathan bird. Shouldn't it be Jonathan Fish?

Fake project zorgo Youtube will win says:

Im still afraid to dive im fat i wont floate

Miles Wakefield says:

I wanna go scuba diving with whale sharks

Mary Rose Musico says:

this channel deserves a millions of subscriber. its a shame i just discover this recently.

Nadiah Az-zahraa says:

Shark : I'm so calm , I'm going to be famous on camera , I'm not going to eat in cameraman

Al-Batutta says:

Does the hammerhead ever get sleep?

T-BONE says:

LOVE that shot of the whale shark.

Anne Stewart says:

lmao, i thought a shark ate him at the start

LX arts says:

Shark bumps nose on camrea

Shark: just giving yall jumpscare, seconds later winks

Zz Destroyah zZ says:

I just got bamboozeld

Zz Destroyah zZ says:

The whale shark is a fish not a shark

SOS Save Our Seas says:

Jonathan, when you die, if you could come back as any animal in the ocean from coral all the way to blue whales, which animal would you choose? I think I’d choose to be a Tiger Shark!

Matic Rogale says:

Kol si dobe sarks

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