10 Terrifying Facts About Sharks

1. They are nature’s best predator

No really, don't go in the water, Fallows C, Gallagher AJ, Hammerschlag N
No really, don’t go in the water, Fallows C, Gallagher AJ, Hammerschlag N

Perfected through evolution, sharks are killing machines. They can sense a drop of blood in millions of drops, they grow up to 22,000 teeth in their lifetime, their eyes roll back into their head when they attack so they don’t have vulnerable areas and we do research on their cartilage because they so rarely get cancer. Not only are they at a biological advantage to humans, they are apex predators in their environment, so they are basically fearless.

2. Sharks are freaking everywhere

Great White Sharks live off the coast of all continents except Antarctica.

The bull shark can migrate up rivers, so it’s not even limited to oceans–it’s been spotted as far up the Mississippi as Illinois.

Both these species are known to attack humans.

3. Sharks hang out close to shore


You know, that part of the ocean you swim in.

4. This account of a shark attack from the OC Register

“It comes right under the kayak, threw her in the air, threw the kayak in the air,” [her husband] said.

“When she landed, she landed on the back of the shark, on her two feet. It was incredible.

Bettina screamed for help. The shark heads in one direction, and she jumps off in the other direction.”

Andrew didn’t see the initial bump, but looked over when their 14-year-old son Andrew said “mom fell off the kayak.”
That’s strange, Andrew thought. In the 12 years she’s been out in the waters kayaking, she’s never fallen off.

Then, in a split second, young Andrew yells: Oh my God, there’s a shark after her!

5. They are amazing hunters

Sharks can find prey even if they are hiding completely under the mud at the ocean’s floor. They can do this because they have electrical receptors in order to navigate ocean currents (affected by the earth’s magnetic fields). There is no escape.

6. These freaks

A cookiecutter shark,
A cookiecutter shark

If you were scarred forever by the cookiecutter shark scene in Shark Night (and trust me the Venn diagram of people who have seen this scene and people who are scarred by it is completely overlapping), know that while rare, attacks from these sharks have happened.

If you’re curious where the bizarre name of these freaky buggers comes from:

The name “cookiecutter shark” refers to its feeding habit of gouging round plugs, like a cookie cutter, out of larger animals.

A deep ocean photographer and a man swimming the channel separating the islands of Hawaiʻi and Maui were both attacked. The culprits were identified as cookiecutter sharks by the telltale plug wounds.

7. Even with all the razor-sharp teeth a shark has, they won’t put you out of your misery

When people die from a shark attack, it’s usually because they bleed to death. Shark don’t eat you right away, and they don’t chew, they use their rows of teeth to rip your limps apart and then swallow the parts whole.

8. Black December

The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper
The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper

“Black December” was a period of six months (beginning in December) in South Africa where there were nine attacks and six deaths of humans due to shark attacks. This mirrors the freak summer along the Jersey shore, known as the Jersey shore shark attacks of 1916, that inspired Jaws. Another cluster of attacks occurred in a resort town off the Red Sea in 2010.

My hypothesis: a lone shark that acquires a taste of humans.

9.There’s no safety in numbers

We definitely feel safer with a group of people around us, and it’s a good precaution against a shark attack to take–but this is because there will be people to help you, not because you are actually more safe. In fact, you’re less safe because sharks are attracted to groups of humans, not a lone swimmer.

10. In fact, there really is not a way to prevent an attack

Sharks feed at all times throughout the day, so there isn’t a time you can “avoid” the water. Also, “living in fear of water” isn’t great advice to begin with, it’s just the best we have. You’ll hear things like “wear dull clothing” and “don’t swim near the surface” which are ways of saying “try not to look like a fish.” But when you’re swimming, you do look like a fish to a creature who is at the top of their food chain. Sharks don’t have anything to fear, why wouldn’t they take a bite just to see if you taste good?

If you’re sufficiently scared now, I’ll let you off the hook: 70% of people attacked by a great white survive, apparently we don’t taste as good as fishies. In fact, you’re more likely to die in a freak vending machine accident than by a shark attack. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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