While dolphins and sharks often share the same waters, sharks are quite different from other large ocean predators.
Sharks are cold-blooded fishes whose skeletons are made from cartilage instead of bone. Unlike bony fish, sharks teeth are not anchored in their jaw and sharks often lose teeth, especially when feeding. Sharks are equipped with three or more rows of teeth, so when a tooth is lost another tooth quickly replaces it. A single shark may have as many as 30,000 teeth throughout the course of its life.
Sharks eat far less than most people imagine. Cold-blooded animals have a much lower metabolism than warm-blooded animals. In fact, in a zoological environment, a shark eats about 1 to 10 percent of its total body weight each week. Studies on sharks in the wild show similar food intake.
A Closer Look
Did you know that the Explorer's Reef exhibit is featured on our Seafari Tour? Consider taking a tour on your next visit to the park.
Ask an Educator
Q: Where are sharks found?
SW: Sharks live all over the world, from warm, tropical lagoons to polar seas. Some even inhabit freshwater lakes and rivers!
Q: Are they endangered?
SW: Some shark populations are on the brink of extinction. Why? Shark meat is a popular food (with many sharks being caught only for human consumption of their fins). And thousands of sharks are caught by accident, snagged in nets set out to catch other kinds of fish.
Q: What do they eat?
SW: Certain kinds of sharks eat some foods more than others. For example, hammerhead sharks eat mostly stingrays. Tiger sharks eat sea turtles. And whale sharks eat plankton.
Q: How big do they get?
SW: The largest shark is the 45 foot whale shark. The 9 to 10 inch midwater shark and pygmy ribbontail catshark are among the smallest.