Sharks are, without a doubt, one of the more fascinating creatures that live in the ocean. After I saw JAWS as a kid, they are also the most frightening – and since I heard about shark attacks happening every year all over the world, I rarely went to the beach despite the bevy of beautiful scenery available to a teenager growing up.
But like any creature that lives on this planet, sharks are about as diverse as they can be. So when you hear about shark attacks, you’d most often hear about the predators like Tiger Sharks, Great White Sharks, and Bull Sharks. Those are the ones that are always at the top of any list involved; so despite the infamy they’ve brought to sharks, they’re not the only ones that make up the species that number in the thousands across Earth’s oceans. And ever since I saw the movie called “The Meg” a few years ago, it made me curious as to what else is out there.
So here are my top 5 picks of the MOST unique sharks I could find that still live in the ocean to this date:
Greenland sharks – this species of shark is one of the largest sharks to this date. It measures around up to 6.4 m (around 21 ft in length) and comes in at about 1,000 kg (around 2,200 lbs) in weight. They’re not the fastest-moving sea creatures and usually hunt prey that is asleep. Its diet mostly consists of fish and seals – but that isn’t exclusive as their wide open-mouths have been known to suck in just about anything in their path when feeding. They can be found hunting in the upper reaches of Canada’s oceans. What’s surprising about this species of shark is that they can live up to almost 500 years. The last recorded Greenland Shark is believed to be around 392 years old.
This species is considered vulnerable among conservationists due to the fact some hunters target them for their oils. They’re also vulnerable to climate change as their hunting ground is around the arctic regions up “north”.
Whale Sharks – this species of shark is even larger than the Greenland Shark. These sharks can grow over 60 to 70 feet in length (above 18 to over 20 meters) and weighing in at 19 tons to over 40 tons. Also like their distant cousin, the Greenland Sharks, this shark is another slow-moving creature that can be classified as a filter-feeder. Their diet consists of plankton and smaller fish that are sucked into their mouth via ram feeding. This means the Whale Sharks open their mouth and swim forward – gulping in everything in their path. They never use their teeth and digest their food through a unique filtration that occurs down their gullet that separates seawater and food.
The Whale Shark is also the most docile species shark ever encountered. Some of the younger Whale Sharks are even seen playing with humans. Sadly, they’re also endangered due to being illegally hunted for their meat, fins, and oils in places like China.
Megamouth Sharks – this shark species is another type of deep-water filter-feeder shark like the Whale Shark. This species was discovered as “recently” as of November 15, 1976, off the coast of Hawaii. They can grow up to 18 feet (around 5.49 meters long) and can weigh up to 2,679 lbs (a little over 1,215 kg). Their diet is almost the same as the Whale Shark’s diet. They can be found in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.
Little is known of their exact numbers, so not even conservationists can guess whether the Megamouths fall into the endangered, or vulnerable category as only roughly 100 specimens of this shark has been sighted – some of which have been accidentally caught, captured, or found dead.
Australian Angelsharks – this shark is usually found near South Australian waters, hence the name. They can grow up to 31 inches (800 millimeters) in length and look like a Stingray that is mated with a catfish than a shark. They have a wide, vertically compressed body, with large triangular pectoral fins and free trailing flaps. The snout has fringed barbels beside the nostrils and a pair of spiracles. Each of these is set at a distance from the eye of about one and a half times the diameter of the eyes themselves.
These little guys like to eat small fish, shrimp, and invertebrates. They’re the kind of predator that likes to do jump-scares as they like to semi-submerged their body in the sediment on the seabed during the day, only to “jump out” at any prey that comes to it. They’re not listed as endangered due to the large population, but they’re known as a “delicacy” in some parts of the world.
Frilled Sharks – this is one of the strangest sharks on my list that it’s both classified as a prehistoric relic that should’ve died with the dinosaurs, and yet can still be found alive to this day. Known as a living fossil due to being more primitively eel-like, slightly more reptilian in appearance despite being part of the shark family. They can grow up to over 6 feet long (roughly 2 meters). They can be found around the ocean floor in the upper continental shelf areas of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans respectively. They usually hunt at night and their diet consists of cephalopods, bony fish, and even smaller species of sharks.
They’re not listed as endangered, but they are at risk of becoming that due to the over-fishing of their food supply – not the sharks themselves.
And here’s a bonus shark since I didn’t want to pass it up:
The Megalodon – this species is long extinct, but it’s rumored to grow up to almost 70 feet in length (roughly close to 20 to 22 meters) and may weigh more than close to 40 to 50 tons. They have been estimated to have lived during the Early Miocene to Pliocene age at around 23 to 3.6 million years ago. What they ate is relatively guesswork, but it would probably be any fish smaller than it. Scientists posit that part of the reason for their extinction is due to climate change, and scarcity of food (probably because they ate like no tomorrow).
They have zero known predators – except maybe themselves and other larger marine biologics at that time period – and maybe also Jason Statham.