This week has been Shark Week, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching every episode I’ve been able to. I could certainly spend all day and all week watching these beautiful creatures and not grow tired. Sharks have fascinated me since childhood; their huge size and fearsome jaws evoked awe and wonder in me, and I remember a spending considerable amount of time in libraries reading all the material I could get my hands on. And I know my teachers in high school didn’t appreciate it when I corrected them on facts they had gotten wrong.
There are nearly 500 different known sharks, and one of the episodes featured Icthyologist (fish expert) Dave Ebert, who spent his time looking for new shark species. I found it interesting that he conducted most of his research in the fish markets of Taiwan, where fishermen brought their latest catch. He’d walk from pier to pier inspecting whatever was dumped out, hoping to find something he hadn’t seen before. In this episode he found a bizarre-looking frilled shark. So far he’s found about 24 new shark species, including a Ghost Shark.
Another episode featured a variety of sharks, some of which are common, and other not so common, and quite bizarre. It was the Greenland Shark that I found most fascinating. I remember reading about this shark as a kid, and, at the time, there wasn’t much known about it. No one knew if it would attack a human, but in this episode, divers cut open holes through the ice and went beneath the frigid waters to film this creature, and it appears slow and docile. They say the Greenland Shark, which lives further north than any other shark, can live about 200 years, and most are blind because of parasites that attach to its eye. It seems they prey on seals, polar bear carcasses and other animals and fish.
Some of the other cool sharks include the freaky Goblin Shark, huge Whale Sharks, the popular Hammerhead, speedy Mako, and the camouflaged Wobbegong. Of course the Great White Shark is featured prominently and probably gets the most attention- as well it should.
While I eat up every episode I can, I can’t help but think about the recent shark attacks that have occurred along the Atlanic coast this summer; there have been 11 shark attacks reported in the Carolina’s this year, and people have recorded sharks teeming the shores of beaches, flopping around in the waves as they’re in search of a meal of fish. Of course the ocean is home for these magnificent creatures, so we have to respect that. Even despite the uptick in attacks, shark attacks are still rare. Sharks don’t purposely hunt people, so swimmers and surfers often don’t have to fear the water, but it’s smart to be cautious and use common sense.
I wish I didn’t have any criticism, but it was annoying to be inundated with all the references to evolution and millions of years. I don’t know how many times I heard the narrator announce that this feature or that shark is the result of millions of years of evolution, that they’re prehistoric, or that sharks have been around for over 400 million years. According to the Bible, sharks have been around since the beginning of creation, the same as mankind. Just because we’re just learning about them doesn’t make them ancient or primitive.
Okay, now it’s time for me to get back to watching the latest episode and enjoy a wide variety of these marvelously designed creatures.