Sharks were cruising around the ocean for over 100 million years before the first dinosaur appeared on land. Even though these ancient predators were regulating the seas long before humans, they remain some of the most misunderstood and under-appreciated animals the world has ever known.
During Shark Week, we’re celebrating the beauty, mystery, and might of the shark as a way to create awareness about the way commercial fishing is decimating its populations, putting the health of our oceans at risk.
If you’ve seen the movie Jaws, you might think the Great White is the biggest shark in the ocean, but here are five other sharks that give the Great White a run for its money:
1. Big Eye Thrasher Shark
Bigeye Thresher sharks are of a purplish grey color and can reach lengths up to 15.1 feet long and can weigh up to 795 lbs. This wide-eyed shark prefers to live in tropical oceans around the world and can be found at depths up to 1650 feet deep.
2. Bluntnose Sixgill Shark
The Bluntnose can reach over 18 feet in length and weighs at least 1,300 pounds when full grown. Although it prefers to dwell in rocky seamounts and mid-ocean ridges, it can sometimes be spotted in shallow waters at night.
3. Great Hammerhead Shark
The biggest of all the hammerheads, the Great Hammerhead Shark can grow to an astounding 20 feet in length. With a preference for warmer tropical waters, hammerheads can sometimes be spotted by humans enjoying a day at the beach. But although they are dangerous, they’re actually shy, and would prefer not to encounter humans if they can help it.
4. Greenland Shark
Unlike the previous sharks on this list, the Greenland Shark prefers the icy cold waters of the North Atlantic Ocean near Greenland and Iceland. Known to grow up to 21 feet long and live as long as 200 years, they are considered to be the longest living vertebrates on Earth.
5. Basking Shark
The Basking is the second largest fish on the entire planet. It can grow to be as long as 40 feet and has been reported at weighing as much as 19 tons. It might be hard to believe, but this beast isn’t even an ocean predator–it’s a filter feeder that eats nothing but plankton.