It's a Shark GIF-a-Palooza: Photos
Shark Week may be over, but that doesn't mean you can't give yourself a few more shocks with these GIFs from an underwater nightmare. Enjoy! See you next year for another week of shark fun and fright.
Two species of mako shark make a living in Earth's waters: the shortfin and the longfin, with the former being more common, while the latter's population has fallen. Unfortunately for the shortfin, it's the shark most eaten worldwide by humans, although in the United States they're usually an incidental catch in nets intended for swordfish and tuna.
The longfin mako, meanwhile, is off-limits to U.S. fishermen in the waters of the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, because it has become scarce.
Shortfin mako sharks have pointy snouts and very long gill slits. Their backs are a dark hue of blue or gray while their undersides are white. As you might guess, the longfin has longer pectoral fins than its shorter brother, and bigger eyes, too. Mako sharks like to migrate and will traverse entire oceans.
Makos range from about 9 to 15 feet in length and can weigh more than 1,500 pounds. Shortfins live for about 11 years and are highly active predators, with very few dangers to dodge themselves besides humans and other, larger, sharks.
The Whitetip Reef SharkDCI
The Whitetip Reef Shark
True to its name, the whitetip reef shark sports shiny white tips on its dorsal and caudal fins. It enjoys nosing about in reef neighborhoods, and would rather cruise shallower waters not much deeper than 100 feet, but it can also be found venturing out into open waters of the ocean. It's most commonly found among the coral reefs of the Pacific and Indian oceans.
The whitetip is a nighttime hunter, keeping a low profile during the daylight hours. Giving lie to the notion that sharks must always stay in motion, the whitetip can, and often does, sit still on the ocean floor while still managing to keep water pumping over its gills so it can breathe.
The whitetip isn't a terribly large shark, maxing out at a bit more than 5 feet in length. Its small, slender body lets it sneak into tight spaces in reefs to make a snack out out of whatever might be in there. It will feast on eels, lobsters, crabs, and even octopus, among other things, seizing its prey at night, when the unsuspecting critters are sleeping.
The Blacktip SharkDCI
The Blacktip Shark
Attention, Floridians. The blacktip shark is the most common brand of shark found in your waters closer to shore, although, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there has never been a fatal attack credited to the species.
More broadly, in the U.S., Atlantic blacktips are usually found in the waters from North Carolina to Texas from spring through summer, although they'll also venture as far north as New England and as far south of the border as Mexico.
The blacktip likes to make its living in coastal waters, using shallow areas between South Carolina and Texas as a place to raise their pups during the warmer months. It spends about 5 years reaching adulthood, will live 10 years or more, and runs about 6 feet long at maturity.
This shark is known for its swift ways in the water and its breaching of the surface to pounce on schools of fish it's hunting.
With teeth that replace themselves throughout their lives, and eyes that are super-fast to respond to low light, the blacktip cuts a dashing shark figure.
The Sand Tiger SharkDCI
The Sand Tiger Shark
The sand tiger shark gets around, ranging in waters all over the world, including the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans as well as the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas. They get down, too, as well as around, taking dives more than 600 feet into the depths.
Sand tiger sharks have an especially fierce look about them, even compared to other sharks. They're bulky yet reach nearly 10 feet in length, and the sturdy creatures have small eyes and no eyelids.
Meanwhile, three rows of sharp teeth bulge out of their mouths, and their flat snouts don't make things any less threatening to observe. However, they aren't, despite their scary looks, considered threatening to humans unless they're provoked.
The sand tiger shark's food choices include bluefish, mackerel, flounder, and a buffet table of other fish, and they have a neat trick where they can take in air from the surface and use it for buoyancy.
Another spooky feature of the sand tiger shark involves its reproductive process. Pregnant females can have as many as 50 embryos, and they grow at different rates. When the largest of the bunch reaches about 4 inches long, it will eat the smaller embryos, in a competition for resources before birth!
The Tiger Shark
The tiger shark is among the top three deadliest sharks in the water, according to the latest statistics on the grisly subject. It's also the top attack species in Hawaii.
This shark with a non-stop appetite will inhabit anything from up-close coastal waters to continental shelf and offshore seas, including oceanic island chains. Off the U.S. coast of the Atlantic, tiger sharks will range from Massachusetts to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, while off the west coast it will inhabit waters in southern California and points south. They also call the Hawaiian, Marshall and Solomon Island waters home.
Tiger sharks are among the larger sharks out there. Some of the biggest among them are more than 18 feet long and weigh more than 1 ton. Litters of anywhere from 35 to more than 50 pups help populate the world's waters with the impressive creatures.
Happy to feast on a diet of things like crabs, bony fish, conches, lobsters, porpoises, turtle, and, yes, possibly even people, the tiger shark is the kind of marine life seafaring folk would just as soon not see.
The Blue SharkDCI
The Blue Shark
The sleek blue shark sports a dark-blue dorsal fin and brighter hue of blue on its sides. It's known as a superior mariner across long distances, and one of its kind was even documented journeying from New York to the waters off Brazil -- about 3,740 miles.
Blue sharks are all over Earth's waters, inhabiting temperate, tropical and sub-tropical areas of every ocean.
If you're an anchovy, you need to keep a lookout for blue sharks, as they love to prey on schooling fish, though they will go after pretty much anything they think will sustain them. Mackerel, squid, sardines, and squid need to watch out, too, as do birds, seals and turtles. In general, they're voracious eaters that sometimes push away from the table just long enough to regurgitate some of their intake so they can eat a bit more.
Blue sharks aren't exactly the biggest sharks in the ocean, topping out at anywhere from 5 to 7 feet long and weighing around 70 to 120 pounds. The deepest they will dive is a bit more than 1,100 feet, which is still pretty deep indeed.
The Bull SharkDCI
The Bull Shark
Bull sharks can be found off U.S. waters from Massachusetts in the Northeast (in rare cases; they don't usually appear much farther north than Delaware) all the way down and around to the Gulf of Mexico. Off the west coast they can, on rare occasions, be found in southern California, and more typically in the Gulf of California.
Bull sharks prefer shallow, coastal waters. Common habitats for them include lagoons and bays. They'll also make a living at the mouths of rivers, sometimes swimming in fresh water that commingles with salt water. They've been spotted, for example, in the Mississippi River, as far north as Illinois.
Bull sharks are fully matured by about 6 years old, and will usually live until 14 years of age or thereabouts. Their litters can have as few pups as just one or as many as a dozen or so.
For sheer size bull sharks don't do too badly. Some can reach 11.5 feet long, although it's more common for them to stop growing around 9 feet long. Adult females typically weigh about 290 pounds -- heavier by about 80 pounds than the average male.
In terms of diet, it might be shorter to list the things it doesn't eat. The bull shark will dine on bony fish, turtles, dolphins, stingrays, and a host of other marine life. It will also eat small sharks, even other bull sharks!
In keeping with its name, the bull shark is a stocky creature -- broad at its middle, with a flat snout. It doesn't mind being aggressive and has 1,300 pounds of bite force to match its overheated personality.
The Great White SharkDCI
The Great White Shark
If there's an Elvis of the shark world, the Great White is it, hands down. It starred in the movie "Jaws," is the embodiment of predation, and its very existence makes ocean swimmers nervous.
Great whites live in coastal waters and offshore in many locations worldwide -- wherever the water's sufficiently warm. In the United States, they can range from Alaska to California on the west coast and all along the east coast, Gulf coast, and Hawaii.
In unusual cases, great whites can be around 20 feet long and weigh more than 7,000 pounds. More typically, though, males will be around 13 feet long and the females just over 16 feet long. Not that that's tiny: Great white pups, even right at birth, can be 5 feet long! And, while it is indeed great, it's only white on its belly, with the topside usually gray to bluish-gray.
What do great whites eat? How about anything they can? Other sharks, sea turtles, birds, porpoises, seals, and tuna are just a few members of the undersea community that could end up a great white's next meal. The enormous sharks dive past 4,000 feet, so there are few places for marine life to hide from this voracious predator. And, helping its cause, the great white has no natural predators apart from Orcas.
Notwithstanding their dominance, great white still know a thing or two about the need for caution. Its eyeballs will move to the back of its head when it is in attack mode, to help protect its eyesight.
The Great Hammerhead SharkDCI
The Great Hammerhead Shark
Hammerhead sharks are probably the most distinctive looking of sharks, with their, well, hammer-shaped heads. And of the eight hammerhead species, the great hammerhead is, as its name suggests, the largest of all.
These fearsome, migratory creatures can be found worldwide in coastal waters, on the continental shelf, and out in deep ocean waters. They'll also ply their trade among coral reefs and in lagoons. They will eat fish, squid, octopus, and crustaceans. And they have a special fondness for eating stingrays.
Great hammerheads are big sharks, on a par in length with great whites. The biggest great hammerheads can in some cases reach 20 feet long, although they usually strain to exceed 12 feet. Great hammerhead moms can have anywhere from half a dozen to more than 50 pups in a litter, usually giving birth every two years.
The width of its cephalofoil -- its ominous "hammer" -- is about a quarter of a great hammerhead's body length, the structure itself nearly straight along the front. Great hammerheads will carry this unique appearance throughout a lifetime that can last up to 40 years.