51 Interesting Facts About Sharks

Last updated on May 5th, 2023

45. Shark Supervillain

Writers at DC Comics were inspired by this Fijian myth to create an aquatic supervillain. King Shark, supposedly the son of Dakuwaqa, is a demigod who fights against Aquaman, The Flash, and Superboy.

46. A Few Dangerous Sharks

A Bull shark
Facts about sharks: the Bull shark. Photo © Sunburntblogger

Not all sharks are dangerous. Most fatal unprovoked attacks on people can be traced to just three species: great white sharks, tiger sharks, and bull sharks. There’s no evidence of human targeting, but they might mistake us for their usual prey like seals.

47. Shark Barriers at Beaches

To keep swimmers safe, some beaches have erected shark barriers that rise from seabed to surface. They may use nets or fences with buoys and anchors – viable in protected harbors, but prone to damage in volatile surf beaches.

48. Shark Fin Toxin

You might want to put down that bowl of shark fin soup. Traditionally seen as nutrient-rich, research shows that shark fins contain the neurotoxin called BMAA. Its role in ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease is under study. Definitely, this is one of the disturbing shark facts.

shark market where sharks are available for sale
Fish market. Facts about sharks. Photo © Angelo Cordeschi

49. Shark Meat

Seafood tastes great, but good health feels better. The US FDA lists sharks, tilefish, swordfish, and king mackerel as having high mercury content. Keep these away from children and pregnant women.

50. Military Aircraft Nose Art

As a symbol of ferocity, a lot of fighter pilots paint their aircraft’s nose with shark faces. The most famous example is the Flying Tigers, a volunteer group of Americans that helped repel the Japanese invasion of China in the 1940s.

51. Wild Shark Friend

A wildlife photographer and a tiger shark have an unexpected friendship. Over 20 years, Jim Abernathy has removed 4 fish hooks from her mouth. “Emma” repays him with affection, acting more like a tender Labrador retriever than a scary shark.

Below are facts about some shark types.

1. Great White Shark Facts

The Great white shark
The Great white shark. Photo © Ramon Carretero

Popularly known as the white pointer, the great white shark, which goes by the scientific name Carcharodon carcharias is the world’s largest predatory fish.

It falls under the order of Lamniformes, which includes some of the most famous and fierce species of sharks.

In its genus, Carcharodon, it is the only surviving species. Known for its all-white belly, the white shark earned its name and is often claimed to be the wolf of the sea.

Great white sharks have pale to dark gray dorsals. There can be a great deal of variation depending on the ocean’s visibility, lighting, and color. 


It is believed that a white shark experiences internal fertilization, like most sharks, despite not being wholly documented.

It is an ovoviviparous shark that hatches inside its mother after growing inside an egg. While in the womb, the fetus feeds on unfertilized eggs through oophagy.

The gestation period is estimated to be 12 months. The average litter can vary from two to ten pups, though some researchers have reported litters of up to 17.

It is estimated that a newborn pup weighs about 35 kg and measures 1.5 m long.

They develop slowly, and the males reach the reproductive stage at 9-10 years of age. Females mature at a slightly later age, between 14 and 16. According to scientists, these sharks are thought to live up to 70 years.

The Anatomy and Appearance of an Adult White Shark

Sharks are most notable for their large conical snouts. Like many mackerel sharks, its tail fin has almost equal lobe sizes on the upper and lower ends. However, great white sharks have been subjected to much debate over their maximum size.

Dental Formula

In addition to the primary teeth, there are rows of secondary teeth inside a white shark’s oral cavity. They quickly replace any tooth that breaks off.

A vital characteristic of the teeth is that they are retractable, i.e., not embedded in the jaw (as in a cat’s claw).

Not to mention, the teeth have a high tactile sensitivity because they’re connected to pressure-sensitive nerve cells.

Because they are serrated, they rip off meat when the white shark bites and shakes its head. The shark will then swallow the broken pieces of teeth together with chunks of flesh.

Preying Behavior and Diet

The white shark is not a picky eater. It is a carnivore, preying on other sharks, porpoises, rays, sea lions, tuna, sea turtles, dolphins, seals, sea birds, and whales. While their favorite meal is the seal, they also enjoy humpback dolphins, sea lions, and certain whales.

The pups primarily feed on small fish since their shorter jaws cannot handle the weight of larger mammals.

A fascinating fact about the great white sharks is that these sharks have no fight over food. They usually do a friendly contest by slapping water surfaces with their tails. The shark that splashes the most water on the opponent wins the prey.

The white shark is a curious creature and takes time to check whether a target is edible or not, especially if it’s in a vulnerable or solitary situation.

The first hunting approach is underwater swimming, where the shark ambushes the prey from below. Or it can swim on the water surface to make a move. The last tactic involves swimming on its back to attack the prey.

The enormous shark lives in all major oceans where temperatures range from 54° to 75° F. Their population is higher on Dyer Island, a South African island. They also frequent the coasts of California, Australia, Isla Guadalupe in Mexico, and the Adriatic and Mediterranean seas.

2. Great Hammerhead Shark Facts

A Great Hammerhead shark.
A Great Hammerhead shark. Facts about sharks. Photo © Michael Valos

Typically, people think of white sharks and whale sharks when they hear the word shark. Nevertheless, though mysterious, hammerhead sharks are easier to locate than other shark species.

These sharks belong to the Chondrichthyes class of fish and the most extensive order of sharks- Carcharhiniformes.

They are divided into ten species, nine of which are of the Sphyrna genus, and one is in the Eusphyra.

The great hammerhead shark or Sphyrna mokarran is the biggest. Scientifically, the hammerhead shark is known as Sphyrnidae, which means hammer in Greek.

It has no natural predator, but human beings threaten these species due to intentional or accidental fishing for their fins.

Physical Characteristics

A hammerhead has the most strangely shaped head of any shark. It resembles a hammer, hence its name.

The mouth is proportionally smaller than the head, and the teeth are small and saw-like.

The outward extensions of their head that make up the “hammer” are known as cephalofoil.

They are mainly known for long-rectangular heads with eyes on the two ends. Having eyes at the edge of the face provides a broader field of view.

A hammerhead shark near the ocean floor.
A hammerhead shark near the ocean floor. Photo © Michael Valos

The dorsal side can be olive or grayish-brown, while the belly is bright white. The white color camouflages the shark on the bright surface of the sea as it pursues the prey. After getting a tan from sun exposure, the fish can turn brown.

With long, pointed dorsal fins, hammerheads have a length ranging from 11 to 20 feet with a notch on the tail. Their average weight is between 200 and 450 kg.


With a gigantic size, a hammerhead can pound and destroy its prey, treating any organism that it comes across as food.

One species is omnivorous, feeding on seagrass, shrimp, lobsters, and crabs. Hammerheads can feast on other sharks, crustaceans, octopuses, and squid, but their favorite prey is stingray.


They are often found in warm coastal waters. They can be spotted cruising along temperate coastlines, continental shelves, and the surface of deep tropical waters. They migrate to cooler or warm regions when the weather changes.

Behavior and Sensory Features

While some hammerheads live in harmony in a group of, say, 100, others live in solitary. Their swimming style is often sideways, which is more effective for their shape.

Like other sharks, they have sensory features, but their detection ability is relatively higher since they are all over the head. The electromagnetic sensors can detect the movements of the target prey and locate it faster than other sharks.

Hammerhead sharks prefer to hunt for food at night. During the daytime, they can move in groups to breed or search for prey. Divers should be careful when exploring the deep waters because there have been instances of human attacks.

Breeding and Lifespan

Hammerhead sharks breed during spring and summer. Reproduction happens every two years.

To initiate mating, the male must bite the female hard until she gives in. She may refuse, but the male will persist for hours, which may result in a scar on her thick skin even though the mating process is not painful.

Fertilization occurs internally where the babies develop safely. After 10 — 12 months of gestation, the female gives birth to about 6-42 pups in shallow waters and leaves them to take care of themselves.

Hammerheads can live for 44 years or more without human threat and predating by larger sea animals.

3. Tiger Shark Facts

A diver filming a Tiger Shark.
A diver filming a Tiger Shark. Facts about sharks. Photo © Greg Amptman

The tiger shark, scientifically known as Galeocerdo cuvier, is one of the most aggressive and largest shark species of the Carcharhinidae family (Requiem). The sea animal is associated with man-eating due to its voracious appetite.

Its dark vertical stripes, resembling those of a land tiger, give it the name tiger shark. However, the stripes are only present in pups but diminish and almost disappear with age.

Humans do not particularly threaten Tiger sharks. Fishing for tiger sharks is not commercial, but their fins, liver, and flesh are used to manufacture vitamin A.

Many times, tiger sharks are confused for sand tiger sharks because of their almost similar names.

A notable difference is that sand tiger sharks’ offspring eat one another while they’re still inside the womb, and only the strongest survive.

Tiger shark at the Bahamas
Tiger shark at the Bahamas. Photo © Michael Bogner

Size and Anatomy of Adult Tiger Sharks

An adult tiger shark can achieve a length of 10 to 14 feet and a weight of 850 to 1,400 pounds.

They are bigger than whales, making them the world’s second-largest predator shark and the fourth in overall size.

With a wedge-shaped head, it can turn quickly, while its skin color allows it to camouflage in water with countershading.

Other remarkable anatomical features of tiger sharks include:

• Small pits in their snouts (Ampullae of Lorenzini or electromagnetic receptors for hunting)
• Long upper tail and fins to maneuver through the water with bursts of speed
• Mirror-like cover behind the retina (tapetum lucidum) that reflects light in the darkness
• High back and dorsal fin for pivoting and quick spinning
• Sensory organs on the sides that track prey through vibrations
• Sideways tip on their broad, short teeth

Besides their enormous size, tiger sharks have bizarre eating habits, consuming just anything from other sharks, venomous sea snakes, albatrosses, rubber tires, seabirds, and other marine animals.

Since they cannot discern their meal, they often attack people out of curiosity.


Female tiger sharks mature biologically when they are about eight, while males achieve maturity at seven.

Gestation and Birth

The embryo develops for 14 to 16 months while receiving nourishment from the mother’s uterine secretions and the yolk sac.

Unlike most mammals with a placenta for feeding the unborn offspring, tiger sharks do not have this organ; hence the embryos grow inside the eggs.

At the end of gestation, the babies will emerge hatched, which is why tiger sharks are regarded as ovoviviparous Carcharhinidae.

A female tiger shark can bear 10 to 80 pups, each 20 to 30 inches long and weighing between 6 and 13 pounds.

Life Expectancy and Survival

The average lifespan of the solitary nocturnal hunter is 27 years in a natural habitat, though some can live up to 50 years.

The adults often prey on baby sharks, but the two age groups occupy different habitats, with the pups preferring calm waters, e.g., bays and river mouths.

Since the adults are strong enough to withstand harsh conditions, they usually survive in rough waters where food is plenty and diversified.

Generally, they like warm waters, and that’s why they are found mostly in temperate and tropical regions such as Central Pacific. Plus, they migrate like birds during winter.

4. Greenland Shark Facts

The Greenland shark
The Greenland shark. Facts about sharks. Photo © Planetfelicity

The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus), the grey or gurry shark, is the slowest shark that lives in the coldest areas of the planet.

The Inuit people refer to it as Eqalussuaq, which has a significant meaning in their culture.

It is one of the sleeper sharks, comprising 17 species named after their sluggish and slow disposition.

In terms of size, it rivals the Great White shark but lacks the fear factor that makes the white shark so intimidating.

A lot is unknown about Greenland sharks; that’s why shark specialists regard them as creatures of mystery. A few facts about the Greenland sharks will help shed some light.

History, Lifespan, and Growth

The Greenland shark’s growth rate and lifespan have puzzled scientists. As the most ancient shark and the longest living vertebrate, it is believed to live more than four centuries.

On average, the adults are between 11 ft and 16 ft. As a slow-growing marine animal, studies show that it increases by 0.4 inches yearly.

The most enormous documented Greenland shark was 2,250 lbs heavy and 21 feet tall.

Mature males are approximately 10 ft long and above. Females are said to mature until they attain a 13 ft length which may take about 150 years.

During reproduction, female sharks retain eggs until they hatch and bear litters of up to 10 at once.

Young pups are approximately 15 inches long. It has not been verified how long the mothers nurse the newborns, but the species are known to be independent creatures from the point of birth.

Unique Traits and Adaptations

  • Brown, black, or slate gray body with purplish sides. It may have white spots or dark bands.
  • Narrow, elongated, and sharp-pointed upper teeth.
  • Smooth, wide lower teeth with oblique cusps.
  • Small dorsal fins without a spine- protrude from the middle of the trunk.
  • Asymmetrical caudal fin.
  • Absence of anal fin.
  • Large spiracles behind the small eyes.

It is purported that their slow swim pace (0.7 mph crawl) renders them unspotted while in the ocean. Thankfully, a delayed momentum helps to conserve energy in icy cold waters, which is a crucial survival mechanism.

Despite the impressive characteristics of the Greenland shark, it seems to be affected by environmental stressors, i.e., loss of habitat and overfishing, more than other fish types.


Even though Greenland sharks are scavengers, eating the remains of polar bears and reindeer, they occasionally ambush seals and salmon.

Their short tails can give incredible bursts of speed when needed. They also like sneaking up while the target prey is still asleep.

Their eyes are vulnerable to parasites, and it’s not uncommon for these sharks to go blind. But this doesn’t stop them from being some of the top predators in the Arctic.

Lumpfish, capelin, squid, herring, crab, char, sea birds, sea lions, cetaceans, halibut, and land animals are some of their favorite meals.

Distribution and Habitats

The Arctic shark can be found in the waters off Greenland, Iceland, and Canada, as their name implies. It means they can survive in temperatures between -1°C and 10°C.

They usually dwell in the deep, dark ocean under frozen waters.

The only time Greenland sharks come to the surface is at the peak of the winter season. In summer, they can swim in depths of up to 2400 ft.

In extreme cold, their tissues produce high amounts of urea and Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). The substances have anti-freezing properties that prevent the formation of ice crystals inside the body, which would disrupt the stability of proteins.

Even though their flesh is toxic, it can be fermented and dried to eliminate harmful chemicals and make a delicious Iceland dish called Hákarl.

5. Basking Shark Facts

The Basking shark
The Basking shark. Facts about sharks. Photo © Simon Burt

The basking shark is the world’s second-largest fish species. It is about the length of a double-decker bus, adults usually reach 7.9 meters in length. They can weigh up to six tons. Want to know more about the basking shark? 

Where Are Basking Sharks Found?

Basking sharks are found throughout the south and north Atlantic, the south and north Pacific, and the Mediterranean Sea. Other places where they live are around New Zealand, off southern Australia, and the Sea of Japan.

They are highly migratory. In summer and spring, they migrate to nutrient-rich coastal waters to feed such as the northeastern USA, Isle of Man, Canada, and Scotland’s western coast.

They can be found in both oceanic and coastal waters, from 200 to 2000 meters. Basking sharks often stray inshore. They are commonly spotted near the water surface.

Do Basking Sharks Hibernate?

It was once believed that basking sharks hibernate but that is not the case.

Instead of hibernating, they hang out in more distant and deeper waters. For example, basking sharks often seen in the Isle of Man and Scotland during summer have been observed swimming to the Faroe Islands, Morocco, and Spain.

Scientists don’t yet understand what drives these migrations. However, it is believed it might be searching for food, suitable temperatures, or a mate.

What is The Lifestyle of Basking Sharks?

They spend most of their summer months moving slowly at the sea’s surface. This behavior inspired the name ‘basking shark’ because it looks like they are soaking up and enjoying the sun’s warmth.

Basking sharks are normally solitary. However, during some seasons like the British summer, they can be seen in large groups.

What Are Their Mating & Reproduction Habits?

During the summer, females and males come together to mate.

Females reach sexual maturity at around 20 years and males at about 12 to 16 years. Scars seen on females suggest that male basking sharks use their teeth to hold onto the female’s body during mating.

The gestation period of females is around 3 years.

What Do They Eat?

Basking sharks are planktonic feeders.

Swimming with their mouths agape, they are able to filter small crustaceans and plankton out of the water using their tightly set and long gill rakers. Water leaves their body through their gill slits. Gill rakers prevent food from escaping via the gills.

Unlike the other filter-feeding sharks, megamouth sharks and whale sharks, basking sharks are passive feeders. Therefore, they don’t actively suck in water. The planktons they eat include copepods, larvae, fish eggs, and other crustaceans.

What about Their Teeth?

Basking sharks have a total of around 1,500 hooked, tiny teeth.

The lower jaw has nine rows of teeth and the upper one has six rows of teeth.

Their teeth are not used in feeding but play a vital role during the mating process.

Are They Harmless?

Resembling predatory sharks and reaching 12 meters in length, basking sharks look intimidating; however, they are harmless.

The Bottom-Line

The basking shark is a plankton-eating fish species.

It is the second-largest living fish and shark.

It has grayish-brown mottled skin.

Basking shark is also called elephant shark, sunfish, and bone shark.

6. Zebra Shark Facts

The Zebra Shark
The Zebra Shark. Facts about sharks. Photo © Perseo8888

The zebra shark is a distinctive and large shark which resides in shallow coral reefs in tropical waters. It can wriggle into caves and narrow crevices in search of food. Its appearance changes as the shark approaches maturity. 

Where Are Zebra Sharks Found?

They are found in the Western Pacific from Australia to Japan. They also live in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Zebra sharks mostly reside in marine waters but some live in freshwater and brackish habitats.

Do Zebra Sharks Lose Their Stripes?

Juveniles have dark bodies with yellow stripes. As they mature, the stripes change to small dark spots with a greyish-tan background. This has made zebra sharks be mistakenly called leopard sharks.

Other features which distinguish the zebra shark are prominent ridges that run across its body and its amazing tail that is as long as the body.

What Is the Maximum Size of a Zebra Shark?

The maximum reported size is about 12 feet. However, zebra sharks that are less than 7.5 feet are common.

What Is the Lifestyle of Zebra Sharks?

They are very lethargic and spend a good portion of their daytime relaxing on the seafloor.

When resting on the ocean floor, they face the current to efficiently pump water through their gills and breathe properly while remaining still.

If the ocean current is strong, zebra sharks have been seen ‘surfing’, they adjust their fins to remain motionless in the water.

What Do They Eat?

Zebra sharks hunt at night. They feed on small fish, crustaceans, molluscs, crabs, sea urchins, and snails. Their bodies are adapted to snatching up prey.

The Zebra shark
The Zebra shark. Photo © Tatiana Belova

How Are They Adapted for Hunting?

Whisker-like organs (barbels) which are on their snouts enable them to seek out prey. A flexible body makes it easy to wiggle in small spaces where small fishes hide.

They have strong gill muscles and small mouths that make them suck up prey in a single gulp.

What Are Their Reproduction Habits?

During mating, a male zebra shark uses claspers to transfer sperms to the female. Claspers are modifications of pelvic fins. Females can lay up to four eggs.

Fine fibres that cover the eggs cases enable them to be anchored to the sea floor.

It takes six and a half months for the egg to hatch. At birth, the pup might be less than a foot but will grow to be about 12 feet when it reaches its full body length.

Can a Zebra Shark Be Asexual?

According to CNN, a Zebra shark in Australia surprised scientists by giving birth without a male. This was the third documented case of a vertebra switching its reproductive orientation from sexual to asexual. Virgin births in vertebrates are thought to aid survival during isolation periods.

Are Zebra Sharks Dangerous?

Zebra sharks are slow-moving and docile. They don’t pose any threat to humans and are easily approached underwater. However, some divers have been bitten by zebra sharks because of provoking them either by attempting to ride them or by pulling their tails. There has only been one documented unprovoked attack which happened in 2008 but there were no injuries.

The Bottom-Line

The zebra shark is a species of carpet shark.

It is found in the tropical Indo-Pacific, where it frequents sandy flats and coral reefs up to a depth of 203 feet.

They are nocturnal and spend most of their day resting on the ocean floor.