As fearsome as they look, sharks are key to the health of the world’s oceans. The more we know about them, the more we can appreciate them. Here are five fishy facts brought to you by our friends at SMILE*:
1. Scientists can determine the age of a shark by counting the rings that form on its vertebra, much as you count the rings on a tree to tell its age. Sharks typically live from 20 to 30 years. In contrast, the North Pacific Giant Octopus lives only 3 to 5 years.
2. Shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone, so the hard teeth are the only part that readily becomes a fossil.
3. Sharks can smell one drop of blood in a million drops of water. Here’s a hands-on shark science activity that teaches about their remarkable sense of smell.
4. Fewer that 100 people in the world are bitten by sharks each year. Of these, about five die. Last year, 4 people died of shark attacks worldwide. In contrast, about 70 people are killed each year by lightning.
5. We kill up to 100 million sharks every year; at least several thousand of those are finned–their fins removed with a hot blade, and the sharks dumped back into the sea, where they bleed to death. Shark fins sell for about $300/pound and are used for shark fin soup.
Here are some shark resources from the MSP2 Collection of Resources:
Long Live the Sharks and Rays
During this video-enhanced lesson, students will watch video segments from the NATURE film “The Secret World of Sharks and Rays” and learn about adaptations that have helped sharks and rays survive. Students will explore similarities and differences between sharks, rays and other fish. Students will work in small groups to research a specific type of shark or ray and share their findings with the class. Students will discover that different types of sharks and rays have different temperaments and diets and that some of the largest sharks and rays are the most gentle.
In this lesson students will learn about a complex and often-misunderstood animal, the white shark. Students will think critically about a set of shark facts and predict whether the statements are true or false, describe a year in the life of a white shark living in the Red Triangle, and create a public service announcement promoting either the protection of humans from sharks or the protection of sharks from humans.
Shark Attack! The Hunt
This interactive feature from the NOVA Shark Attack! Web site details the six senses sharks use to find and capture their prey.
*SMILE is collecting the best educational materials on the web and creating learning activities, tools, and services – all designed especially for those who teach school-aged kids in non-classroom settings.