Friday, April 29, 2005

The great white shark in school

MURRIETA ---- Some parents might have been alarmed Wednesday when their child came home excitedly describing how fun it was to pet a real shark at Tovashal Elementary School.While the story is true ---- about 100 of the school's kindergarten students did use two fingers to feel the rough texture of a swell shark's skin ---- the fish was only about 1 foot long, it's known to be harmless to humans, and the petting was done under the careful supervision of Aquarium of the Pacific officials.

With oohs and ahhs, students also touched sea stars, anemones and other marine inhabitants as part of the aquarium's mobile tidepool exhibit, driven to the school in a large truck as one part of an hourlong presentation teaching the students about ocean animals.

While it wasn't quite a trip to Sea World, it was pretty darn close.With a replica of a 16-foot elephant seal and a 22-foot Great White Shark looming in the background, presenter Lori Perkins used videos and props to teach the students about ocean animals and their traits.At one point, two student volunteers put their hands in ice-cold water. One student's hand was wrapped with a glove filled with blubber; the other student's hand was bare.

This example quickly taught the two student volunteers as well as the audience why blubber is an important trait for many ocean animals to stay warm in the cold sea.Other parts of the presentation included colorful videos from places such as the Pacific Ocean-based islands of Palau, known for bountiful coral reefs and diverse marine life.Students were also treated to a presentation on whales, and were shown videos of whales whipping the two lobes of their tails ---- which the students learned are called flukes ---- up over the water as the large mammals dove through topside waves.

As the images flashed on a large screen, the mesmerizing and unique sound of whale songs echoed through the school's multipurpose room, where most of the presentation took place.When the students were taught about sharks, an inconspicuous box was opened, and to the amazement of the students, who sat silently as they watched, a 22-foot great white shark was blown up with air right before their eyes.

When the generator was done filling the shark replica with air, the creature dwarfed presenter Perkins and rows of young students.While the school's mascot is actually a tiger shark, Principal Terry Olson said the presentation's subject was a coincidence.

She said school officials often seek ways to bring unique educational opportunities to the campus rather than bus students to faraway places, and the presentation was paid for through field trip funds.Perkins said she hopes the presentation not only teaches students about the unique features of ocean animals, but also perhaps sparks the imagination of a few future marine biologists.Certainly some of the students got excited about the presentation.When asked what their favorite part of the program was, a group of 6-year-old boys who had just exited the mobile tide pool exhibit yelled out in unison: "The sharks!"

Is it possible that the mako shark might be related to the great white shark?

Or is the great white shark related to the mako shark? Posted by Hello

Contrary to the current scientific theory that the megalodon is the ancester of the great white shark, dental records suggests that in fact, the mako shark as more of the same features compared to the megalodon? Is it possible that Science is once more dumbfounded by Mother Nature's secrets? Read some of the articles on this blog to find out some more information on this topic.

Is the megalodon, this prehistoric shark, really the ancester of the great white shark?

Is the great white shark related to the megalodon? Posted by Hello

Scientists are confused about the origins of the great white shark. While the megalodon has always been considered the ancester of the great white shark, there is now some contradictory evidence that suggests otherwise.

Is the great white shark related to the megalodon or to the mako shark?

The issue is if the Great White, one of the most feared predators of the sea, evolved from the huge prehistoric megladon shark or if its ancestry rests with the mako shark. “Most scientists would probably say the Great Whites evolved from the megladon line, which existed from two million to twenty million years ago.

They were huge sharks, approximately the length of a Greyhound bus and possessing teeth that were up to six inches long,” explains Ciampaglio. “However, our research, which is based on analyzing fossils of several hundred shark teeth, shows that the Great White shares more similarities with the mako shark.”

He added that because sharks regularly replace their teeth, it is relatively easy to obtain tooth samples through fossil field work along the Atlantic seaboard. Ciampaglio acknowledges that people seem to have a fascination with sharks. “The general public seems to like sharks, and maybe this is because they bring out the fears of our childhood, when they were perceived as scary monsters,” he explained. His interest in sharks is apparent when entering his office.

The door and walls have pictures of shark teeth, and there are posted references to fossils and a geological time table. The research scientist makes imprints of the teeth, then digitizes the picture to establish grids of different combinations that are analyzed by a sophisticated computer program. He even uses an electron microscope to view different serration designs of shark teeth.

“Our analysis of their teeth shows that Great White and mako sharks have very similar tooth growth trajectories, while those of the great white and megladon are not similar. Analysis of both the root and entire tooth also shows a remarkable similarity in all four tooth positions under study for both the Great White and mako shark.

Serration densities possess a strong similarity between the Great White and makos, where the serration densities between the Great White and megladon exhibit sharp differences. In summary, our morphological (form and structure) evidence strongly supports the theory that the Great White is descended from the prehistoric mako group.”

Ciampaglio said the Great White sharks, which can reach a size of nearly 25 feet and possess two-inch teeth, have been a major research subject of his for the past four years. He holds a doctorate from Duke in paleontology, the study of prehistoric life forms. His academic background also includes master’s degrees in zoology and geology and a bachelor’s degree in physics and chemistry. “My work looks at large scale changes of life over time and how things like mass extinction affect the course of life,” he said. Ciampaglio discussed his shark research findings at recent Geological Society of America meetings in Mississippi and Colorado.

A scholarly journal article on the subject is pending. The geologist joined the Lake Campus faculty two years ago, and one of the reasons he selected Wright State was the extensive opportunity for fossil research in this region of Ohio.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Is the great white shark related to the megalodon?

Millions of years ago the oceans were ruled by a bus-sized, whale-eating shark with teeth as big as your hand.

Scientists have long believed that the prehistoric megalodon shark evolved into today’s scariest sea predator, the great white. However, a new study comparing teeth suggests that the great white is more closely related to the smaller, but equally vicious mako shark.

"Most scientists would probably say the great whites evolved from the megalodon line, which existed from two to twenty million years ago," said Chuck Ciampaglio, a geologist and paleontologist at Wright State University. "However, our research, which is based on analyzing fossils of several hundred shark teeth, shows that the great white shares more similarities with the mako shark."

A great white shark compared to the much larger megalodon, and a hapless hypothetical human.
Reconstructing prehistoric sharks is difficult. A shark’s skeleton is made of cartilage, which decomposes quicker than bone. Researchers have only recovered a few fossilized megalodon vertebrae.

"Teeth are the thing to go on," Ciampaglio told LiveScience.

Sharks replace their teeth regular, so they can be found on the seafloor. Fossils of megalodon teeth are collected on ancient seabeds now exposed. Ciampaglio digitized hundreds of teeth -- upper, lower, front, and back teeth from the three species, and analyzed their sizes and shapes.
The analysis showed great whites and makos have very similar tooth and root structure. "The great whites and makos lay right on top of each other," Ciampaglio said. They also have very similar growth trajectories – how a tooth changes in size and shape as the shark grows to its adult size.
The great white and megalodon, however, shared none of these characteristics. Serration is their only common trait, said Ciampaglio, but the other characteristics are more important.

This evidence "strongly supports the theory that the great white is descended from the prehistoric mako group," Ciampaglio said. The megalodon was probably the end of a run of giant sharks that died out 2-3 million years ago, he said.

Recently, a few fossil species was found off South America that look like an intermediate between the great white and mako, Ciampaglio said. This further strengthens his theory on great white evolution.

While great whites typically grow up to 20 or 25 feet in length, the megalodon was twice as long and had a gaping maw that a human could climb into, should someone so desire.
"They were huge sharks, approximately the length of a Greyhound bus and possessing teeth that were up to six inches long," said Ciampaglio.

In Greek, megalodon means "big tooth." Thanks to those teeth, scientists have been able to estimate the size of the megalodon to have been at least 40 feet in length. Many researchers suspect they were 50 feet or larger, and some have speculated they were much bigger.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Great white shark found dead in fisherman's net

What a beautiful creature! This great white shark displays such graceful moves. Posted by Hello

Fishermen trapped several great white sharks in waters off Yeosu, South Jeolla Province, Coast Guard said Monday, much earlier in the season and farther south than usual.

One male great white shark 3 meters long and weighing 1.5 tons was found dead on Sunday trapped in the net of a 46-year-old fisherman identified as Cho, half a mile east of Yeondo, Yeosu. A female great white shark measuring 4-5 meters and weighing 3 tons was also found in the man¡¯s nets last Thursday.

The sharks sold at auction for W350,000 (US$ 350) and W360,000. Auctioneers say sharks sell cheap as there is little demand.

Along with tiger sharks, great white sharks are considered the most violent species of man-eating sharks, familiar to the public thanks to ¡°Jaws¡±, Stephen Spielberg¡¯s 1975 film.
In Korea, man-eating sharks cause occasional casualties among divers on the west coast near North Jeolla and South Chungcheong Provinces in May and June, when water temperatures rise. However, this is the first time in more than 10 years that a cannibal shark appeared on the southern coast of Korea.

Coast Guard have beefed up patrols in the Yeosu area and urged residents to promptly report any sightings of man-eating sharks to police.

Necklace with a shark's tooth pendant

This necklace has a pendant that is actually a shark' tooth. Posted by Hello

For centuries, a shark's tooth was proudly worn around the neck to make sure that everyone would notice it. Some tribe would also decorate one of their warriors with a shark's tooth pendant or a necklace for his bravery or heroism.

Charms sculpted in shark's teeth

These objects are charms sculpted from shark teeth. Posted by Hello

Charms have been used for centuries as a sign of good luck for superstitious people. A shark's tooth was a sign of good omen so it explains its use for these charms.

Mural decoration made out of shark's teeth

This is a mural decoration totally made of shark teeth. Posted by Hello

Incredible isn't it? What puzzle it must have been to put all these teeth together. This original decoration reminds me of the icons made by certain tribes in respect to this squale.

Bolo made out a shark's tooth

This picture represents a bolo made out from the tooth of a shark. Posted by Hello

For centuries, people have always been proudly showing of their jewelry to decorate themselves for a special event and many years ago, to show pride and respect towards one of the most respected creature that ever swam our oceans. As you can see, this tradition may have been modified through times but still, a shark tooth is still proudly worn as jewelry.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The great white shark, myth or reality?

The great white shark is often known as a man eating monsters that people should be terrified to even think of, thanks to movies like "Jaws" Any marine biologist would tell you that it is a myth or Hollywood fiction.

The great white shark should not be underestimated but respected by any diver. This type of shark can be aggressive but rarely without a reason. Hunger or distress can cause for it to react by attacking but usually, following the first bite, the human victim is freed as the taste is off compared to a seal. Also, this squale can gobble a variety of things, food or not. You could be surprised to find out about the content of a great white shark's stomach.

It has been known to ingest dogs, licence plates, aluminum cans and other surprising elements. One of the thing that can attract this shark is blood, regardless of the hurt prey. If there is a lack of food in a certain area, the great white shark will migrate elsewhere but it will stay around if plenty of food is available.

Often, when the media releases informations about a shark attack, people forget that the odds to be killed by a shark is very remote compare to a car accident, a medical condition or being attacked by another human being.

As a matter of fact, this type of shark has been victimized by humans to the extent of becoming an endangered specie. Some articles are showing the cruelty displayed towards the great white shark and displayed as trophies. Fortunately, this kind of treatment is being punished by law.

I am not suggesting to take a swim with the great white shark but to learn to respect this squale, the way it should be.

The Characteristics of the Great White Shark

The Great White Shark, scientifically known as Carcharodon Carcharias, is an intriguing animal. Let's find out a few detail about this Lord of the Sea.

  • The size of this large fish varies between 16 and 36 feet long although the longest ever recorded one was 21 feet long. The smallest one ever recorded was 47 inches long as it was a newborn Great White shark.

  • The weight of the Great White shark can be up to 4000 pounds.

  • The appearance of the Great White shark is recognisable by its white belly, a grey back, a torpedo shape, a pointed snout, two dorsal fins, a crescent shape tail and five gill slits.

  • The teeth are as sharp as razor blade. The mouth of a Great White shark has 3000 teeths displayed in several rows. The first two rows are used to grab and cut its prey. The teeth have a triangular shape with rough edges. Each one is replaced by a tooth from the back row when a tooth is broken, worn out or fall out.

Information about the great white shark

The behaviour and the natural habits of the Carchardon Carcharias also known as the great white shark, are interesting and contrary to people's reactions, sometimes even peculiar.

  • The food menu of the great white shark is mainly containing: seals, sea lions, fish, rays, small toothed whales, dolphins, large tuna fish, sea otters, sea turtles, young sharks, salmon, hake, halibut, mackerel, seabirds, marine mammals and any dead animal floating on the surface.When the shark is hunting for a prey, it goes to the bottom of the ocean and looks for shapes at the surface. When it sees a shape that looks like any of his preys, it charges in its prey and take a first bite which both stuns the prey which is also injured and let it bleed to death. When the great white shark is certain that his prey is dead, it feeds on it an rips it into pieces and swallow them whole as a shark does not chew any food. Some big meals can satisfy it for up to two months.

  • The habitat of the great white shark is mostly situated in the temperate waters near the coast but occasionally, great white sharks have been spotted in deep and open oceans. They can swim is water as shallow as three feet deep and in some as deep as 1280 meters. In the United States of America, great white sharks are living in the ocean water from Alaska to California on the West coast and on the East coast., most of the Gulf coast and Hawaii as well. You can also find them on the coast of South Africa, Australia (exception of the North coast), New Zealand, the Mediterranean Sea, from Scandinavia down to West Africa, Japan and on the East coast from Russia down to China.

  • The reproduction of the great white shark is ovoniparous which means that the female's are fertilized inside of her and the eggs later hatch several pups (between 2 to 14 pups) fully formed which can be up to 1.5m (5 feet) in lenght. While in the womb, the pups are feeding on unfertilized eggs or weaker siblings as there is no placenta to nourish them forcing them to fend for themselves. Unlike other sharks who lay eggs, the great white shark is giving birth to live pups. As soon as the pups are born, they are on their own. The size of a newborn pup is about 4 feet long and will continue to grow about 10 inches every year until it reaches maturity at 10 years old.

  • The senses of the great white shark have very sensitive senses. One of them is the sense of smell. A great white shark can smell a drop of blood in 100 liters (25 gallons) of water. Another of its senses is the ability to detect electrical charges as small as 0.005 microvolts. It can detect its prey by the electrical field created by a beating of a heart or the action of gills. Hiding or not, a prey is not safe.

  • The migration of some great white shark females is sometimes noticed when they choose to give birth to their pups in warmer water, in autumn.

  • A great white shark in captivity will most likely survive in a tank. In 1980, a San Francisco Aquarium had a 7.5 feet great white shark in captivity. After a while, the shark's behaviour became odd due to specific problems in the tank. It began to even bump its head against the surface of the tank which would have eventually killed it but the aquarium decided to do the right thing and released the great white shark into the wild.

As you can see, the great white shark is an intriguing, mysterious and also very interesting subject to study and for some brave enough, even to observe first hand.

The great white shark on film

This is a beautiful picture of a great white shark. Posted by Hello

The great white shark is a mysterious creature. It is intriguing and bring fear to anyone or anything at proximity. The myths that are surrounding this animal are numerous and mostly false. Also, to be fair, Hollywood and the film industry has exploited this squale in various ways but certainly in the making of horror movies. In reality, the great white shark is an endangered and protected specie and although it has been known to mistake surfers for seals, it often does not attack unless if feels threatened or hungry. The great white shark has been known to let go human victims after the first bite when it realized that the taste was not the one of a seal.


The great white shark is both mysterious and scary. People tend to be intrigued by the aura of danger and brute power that surround this animal. Let's explore together! Let's find out what are the myths and what is the reality. Is the danger surrounding this shark is warranted or is it victimized by the man and the myths created by him on and off the big screen? In the following articles, I intend to introduce you to a mass of information concerning this impressive squale.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Great White Shark breaching!

This is a beautiful picture of a great white shark breaching.

Breaching is a leap out of water which is also one habit that is used by whales as well. The great white shark also uses this technique to capture his prey by taking it by surprise. This picture is offering a great view of this technique.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Diving with the great white shark

Diving with the great white shark is offered as a tour to people interested in observing this mysterious and intriguing squale. This picture may trigger some fear in people but in reality, this great white shark is curious to investigate these weird looking creatures. This squale has also been known to leisurely pass by divers, ignoring them. They are not the monstruous beast that they have been taught to be, in fact, unless they are hungry or in distress, attacks are not as frequent as people are made to believe.