When we think of sharks, many of us are instantly greeted with the image of stealthy, deadly predators making their way through the waves in search of prey…and the vision of a deadly silent assassin is one that has prevailed throughout film, television, and literature.
In the real-life animal kingdom, however, do sharks actually move in total silence, or do they make noise as they go? We took a closer look at the evidence to try and answer this question.
What Is A Shark?
Sharks are fish that belong to the order Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fishes) and possess an external skeleton made up of cartilage, which gives them flexibility and allows for movement.
Sharks also have gills, which allow them to extract oxygen from water while submerged, as well as two dorsal fins on top of their bodies, and five pectoral fins on either side.
The word shark comes from the Old English word scēacu, meaning “to cut”.
The name was given because when these creatures were first described by ancient Greek sailors, they looked like sharpened knives.
Today, there are over 400 species of sharks, including hammerheads, tiger sharks, bull sharks, blacktip sharks, lemon sharks, nurse sharks, sandbar sharks, great whites, makos, bonnethead sharks, smoothhounds, porbeagle sharks, dusky sharks, spinner dolphins, whale sharks, basking sharks, and blue sharks.
Each of these has its own unique features and physical characteristics, and the world of sharks is a vast and varied one.
Do Sharks Make Noise?
According to experts, sharks do not have any sound-producing organs, and this means that they cannot produce sounds.
Instead, they slide through the water in total silence – and this is a huge advantage to their status as predators.
In addition, the scales of sharks are designed to be silent, and this is once again a major advantage when it comes to hunting or stalking prey.
What Makes Sharks Such Formidable Predators?
There are several reasons why sharks are so feared and respected among other animals, and some of the main elements include:
Firstly, the size of sharks can be quite intimidating: some species grow to lengths of 20 feet and weigh up to 6 tons.
They are also very powerful, capable of biting off chunks of flesh from humans who get too close and even swallowing whole whales.
Sharks can be aggressive hunters – especially when disturbed, injured, or hungry – and can’t attack anything that gets in their way if they perceive it to be prey or a possible food source,
This includes people, boats, and even other sharks! If you’re unlucky enough to fall victim to a shark’s bite, your chances of survival are slim, but if you manage to escape, you’ll probably suffer severe injuries.
Sharks can reach some impressive speeds, with some species moving at more than 50 miles per hour.
Their speed makes them extremely dangerous, and they can easily outrun most human beings.
In some cases, however, sharks will bide their time, and may swim slowly along the bottom of the ocean floor, waiting patiently for unsuspecting prey to pass by – this can be just as dangerous.
- Dangerous Bite
Sharks’ teeth are designed to tear into their prey, and this can leave deep lacerations which have the potential to be fatal or cause life-changing injuries.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Types of Sharks?
Although there are many different types of sharks, some of the most common ones include:
- Hammerhead Shark
The Hammerhead shark is found worldwide, inhabiting tropical waters. It is known for its long snout, large eyes, and distinctive head shape.
Although it looks similar to the Great White Shark, the Hammerhead does not possess the same vicious temperament.
- Great White Shark
This is one of the largest predatory fish around, growing up to 18 feet in length and weighing up to 5 tons.
It is also perhaps the most famous and recognizable example of sharks, thanks to depictions in film and television!
- Bull Shark
This is another widespread species of shark, often seen swimming near beaches.
Bull sharks are typically smaller than Great Whites, measuring between 10 and 15 feet in length.
- Nurse Shark
These relatively small sharks are usually found in shallow coastal areas, where they feed on small crustaceans and plankton.
- Spiny Dogfish
Also called the Spade’s foot, this is an elongated shark with a spiny dorsal fin. It has a slender body and short tail and grows up to 12 feet in length.
- Whale Shark
A relative of the great white shark, these gentle giants grow up to 25 feet in length and weigh up to 11 tons.
They are generally found in warmer parts of the Pacific Ocean, including Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
How To Avoid A Shark Attack?
There are several ways to avoid being bitten by a shark:
- Avoid Areas With High Numbers Of Sharks
If you know that sharks congregate in certain places, then you should avoid those areas, and always listen carefully to the advice and warnings of lifeguards and coastguards.
- Keep Your Distance From Them
If you spot a shark, keep your distance and don’t try to approach it.
It is a good idea to stay as still as possible, and avoid the temptation to panic, flail or move too much – this can cause a shark to mistake you for prey, and they may decide to attack.
- Know How To Swim Safely
Swimming off the shoreline is never advised since sharks tend to prefer deeper water. Always wear a wetsuit or other form of protection, and learn how to tread water if necessary.
- Learn More About Sharks
It’s important to understand what sharks are like, and why they behave the way they do.
This knowledge could save your life.
Sharks are truly fascinating creatures, and their ability to slop silently through the waves is a result of evolutionary and biological design – and is pretty impressive.
This is a key part of what makes sharks such great predators and helps them to maintain a place at the very top of the marine food chain.