12 Jul July 14th – Shark Awareness Day!
Summer is still in full swing and many of us are enjoying that time off by taking vacations and trips to the beach! There is nothing better than feeling the sand between your toes, an ice-cold drink in your hand, and the salty ocean spray. But the ocean does pose a few threats, some of which we are more familiar with than others. When we go visit the ocean, we are sharing that space with the marine life native to the area, and that includes sharks!
This year, July 14th is Shark Awareness Day! From watching movies like “Jaws”, to hearing about shark attacks on the news, it is perfectly normal to feel threatened at first by these powerful creatures. Sharks are not out to prey on humans, but rather misunderstood fish who are more curious than they are vicious. The more we learn about sharks, the more mindful of them we can be when visiting the beach.
Of all the sharks, perhaps the most popular is the great white shark. According to National Geographic, these sharks can reach up to twenty feet in length, weigh around 2.5 tons or more, and can swim up to 15 miles an hour. They are great swimmers, and shape allows them to travel through the water like a torpedo. It is believed that roughly one-half of shark attacks are committed by this species. The purpose of these attacks is likely to get a sampling or taste, since humans are not the great white’s preferred food of choice. With over 3,000 teeth even a single shark bite can be dangerous. Great white sharks’ territory in the US spans across the waters of the east coast, west coast, and Gulf of Mexico.
Another common shark is the tiger shark. While they may not be as big as the great whites, they can still pack a powerful punch. These sharks average fourteen feet in length and can weigh up to 1,400 lbs according to National Geographic. Because they scavenge for their food, they do not have much of a preference for certain foods in their diet. Tiger sharks prefer to live in tropic of subtropical waters, and may be seen in the US on the east coast, Gulf of Mexico, and southern coasts of California.
The final shark we will touch on today is the bull shark. While smaller in size than the tiger shark and the great white shark, bull sharks are said to be more dangerous to humans. This is mainly because they prefer warm, shallow waters. Because people enjoy swimming in these areas, there is a greater risk for encountering this type of shark. Bull sharks can be found on all coasts in the US.
While it may be easy to worry when you know you are about to share the water with creatures like these, take a minute to think about reality. There are on average nineteen shark attacks in the US per year, while the number of deaths from health-related diseases and car crashes are much greater. Next time you go to the beach, unless of course there has been a caution or warning released, feel free to jump into the salty ocean water and enjoy yourself!
“Great White Shark.” National Geographic. National Geographic Partners, LLC, 22 June 2017. Web. 12 July 2017.
“Tiger Shark.” National Geographic. National Geographic Partners, LLC, 26 June 2017. Web. 12 July 2017.