20 Weird Sharks You Had No Idea Existed
Sharks have got a bad reputation. Ever since Jaws hit the cinema screens, people have run from the waters in terror, convinced that there is a shark lurking in the deep, waiting to launch a surprise attack. In fact, there are very few recorded cases of shark attacks per year and those which do happen are predominantly as a result of confusion on behalf of the shark, who has mistaken a human for another source of food. Sharks are amazing creatures and have barely changed in DNA since the time of the dinosaurs; they’re that efficient.
Whilst we’re all familiar with the Great Whites and Hammerheads of this world, there are hundreds of other species with which we’re not as familiar with. These sharks are somewhat unconventional and when you realize what they can do, you’ll see the fish in an entirely different light.
Wobbegong sharks don’t really look like sharks. In fact, they don’t really look like fish. Lying on the sea bed, they blend in with the sand and rocks within the coral reefs they inhabit. Their tactic is to lull smaller fish into a false sense of security and strike when they’re at their most vulnerable. They even use their tail as a dummy fish, to make others think it is safe. Tricky.
Cookie Cutter Shark
You won’t want to put your fingers anywhere near these little sharks; Cookie Cutters have some of the sharpest and most destructive jaws out there, despite being relatively small in size. They get their name from the way they attack their prey, gouging holes of flesh out with their teeth.
Often called a “living fossil”, the Frilled shark is one of the oldest fish in the waters and has barely changed over the course of its existence. Living in deep water, it moves like a snake and gets its name for its frilly gill slits on its sides.
It’s not hard to see why the Goblin shark has such a bad name. Viewed in profile, its long snout resembles the hooked nose of a goblin and when it opens its mouth, things are only intensified. Extending its jaw, it reaches forward to catch its prey and looks more than a little disfigured in the process.
Australian Ghost Shark
The Australian Ghost Shark is one of the smaller members of the family and lives in relatively shallow waters. Living exclusively within the Australian waters, the shark is silvery in colour and when it flashes by, you’ll think that you’ve seen a ghost.
As if a mouth full of never-ending teeth wasn’t enough, there is a species of shark born with a little something extra. The Sawshark has a long saw-like snout covered with teeth which they can use to slash and attack their victims. Think of it like going around with a pair of scissors stuck to your face. Scary.
If you’re worried about peering down the throat of a Megamouth, don’t. This deep water shark is extremely rare and has been spotted by only a few people since the 1970’s. It swims with its enormous mouth wide open in order to pick up as many plankton and jellyfish as it can take.
You shouldn’t just be worried about a shark’s teeth; if you get up close and personal with a Thresher shark, keep your eye behind you. Born with an extended tail fin, the Thresher shark uses it as a whip, stunning its prey into submission. Tails can often grow as long as the shark itself so if you find yourself in Thresher water, mind your distance.
Despite the fact that the Megalodon has been extinct for a long time now, they are still, without a doubt, the most terrifying shark to ever have lived. Regarded as one of the biggest and most powerful predators in history, the Megalodon is believed to have reached a length of 59 feet. Now that’s jaw power.
Whorl Tooth Shark
Despite having been extinct for a long time, fossils of Whorl Tooth Sharks (Helicoprion) have revealed the fish to have had spirally arranged clusters of teeth, arranged like a circular saw. Whilst early theorists believed the whorls were used for self defense, it has since been uncovered that they were within the lower jaw, always ready for attack.
Dwarf Lantern Shark
The Dwarf Lantern shark is the smallest known shark in the world, measuring around the same length as a pencil. Living in the depths of the ocean, it produces a glowing light in order to attract a mate and lure prey within its reaches. Proof that just because it’s small, doesn’t mean it isn’t mighty.
Just when you thought it was safe to get out of the water, the Epaulette Shark had to go and prove everybody wrong. Living in coral reefs and shallow water, the shark has developed the ability to use its fins to walk on dry land, enabling it to get out a sticky situation if it gets trapped in a shrinking rock pool.
Whilst sharks aren’t exactly known for their smooth skin, the Prickly Dogfish has it rougher than most and get its name for its sandpaper-like covering. The small humpbacked shark can be found in the deep waters just off Australia and New Zealand and whilst it might be more compact, it still packs a snappy punch.
Sharpnose Sevengill Shark
The Sharpnose Sevengill lives in very deep water and as a result, relies on the ability to detect the tiniest movement in the water. Its fluorescent eyes are able to pick up on small changes in its surroundings and it can glide through the water with very little movement required. Stealth is its strength.
The bizarre looking Angular Roughshark is covered with teeth-like scales and is shaped a little differently from most other fish. With a face a bit like a turtle, the Angular Roughshark lives around the Mediterranean and can be found munching on worms and mollusks.
Proof that even sharks have their duvet days, the Pyjama shark is a fish always ready for bed. Noted for its sluggish and nocturnal behaviour, the shark wears its pyjamas all day, formed in a series of stripes running down its back.
The Zebra shark looks like what you would get if you crossed a zebra with an eel. Living on the sea floor, this shark is born with a body covered in stripes, marking it different from other fish. It doesn’t last for long, though; once the Zebra shark reaches adolescence, it loses its signature stripes and is identifiable only for the spots on its back.
Despite its small size and relatively petite fins, the Caribbean Roughshark is not one with whom you want to mess. Boasting a mouth full of blade-like teeth, it can cut through the flesh of other fish with no problem and isn’t afraid to do so.
Dumb Gulper Shark
Born with an unusually wide mouth, the Dumb Gulper shark lives in deep water and is a relative mystery to shark experts. Despite its less than flattering name this fish is not actually a shark, rather it’s a deepwater Dogfish, furthermore, there is nothing to suggest that the Dumb Gulper is stupid and in fact, they can survive well into their 40’s. They must be doing something right.
The Angel shark looks more like a ray than anything else. Living on the seabed, the shark has a flattened out body which it uses to camouflage itself within the sand. Angel sharks are also born with extendable jaws meaning that, even if prey is out of direct reach, they can still make a leap for it.