Thursday, October 30, 2008

Give a shark a hand

Sharks make me happy. They're such a prehistoric animal, move like poetry, and are an incredible predator. Modern sharks have been around for about 100 million years and the design is so perfect, it hasn't really changed that much since then! They are stunningly gorgeous and sadly very misunderstood and vilified. Thanks, Spielberg. You big Jerk.

So today I am glorifying the fabulous Hammerhead.
Let's get the "Oh, but Adelle, you're so mean! Sharks BITE people. I won't go in the ocean because there are SHARKS there and I'll get eaten!" nonsense aside first.

Stop flattering yourself, sissy-pants! Sure, you may think you look delicious and maybe you are, but the actual chance of you getting bitten is insultingly small. You're more likely to do die from an attack from the LHHL (the Lightning Hates Humans League), than a shark attack. While numbers vary per year, on average there are about 100 shark attacks worldwide per year, and up to 10 of those are fatal. Cunning and malicious destroy-all-humans lightning strikes, however, cause almost 100 deaths per year in the USA ALONE.

I'll take my chances with the sharks, thank you very much. Now that you've been de-sissified and are ready to head back to the water, we'll get back to Hammerheads.

Of the 9 species of Hammerhead Sharks, there are 3 that have been known to nibble on the unwary albeit possibly delicious human once in a while. The Scalloped, Great, and Smooth hammerheads can be dangerous, but not even in the same ball-park as how dangerous humans are to sharks. The Great and Scalloped are on the World Conservation Union's endangered list, and the Smalleye is listed as vulnerable. Now, if you are saying in a whiny voice, "But Adelle! You're so mean! Why should I care if the ocean's largest predators and integral part of the ecosystem is being systematically destroyed by overfishing, finning, and by-catch?", I'm going to slap you and not dignify that with a response. Scientists have been giving the reasons for exactly that for years and nothing I can say can help save the human race if you haven't been paying attention.

Hammerhead Sharks are so named for the flattened hammer shape of their heads that scientists postulate has developed for sensory reception, maneuverability, and/or prey manipulation. And before you say, "But Adelle! They don't even know what it's for?!", shut-up. You wouldn't even get in the water five minutes ago, and now you expect biologists to know everything about sharks? Sheesh. YOU get in there and study them, smarty-pants.

A couple things that make these fish so special is the fact they use internal fertilization (no, I am NOT explaining that to you) unlike other sharks. The female will have a litter of 20-40 live pups after a gestation period of 10-12 months. And what is crazy is, there are rare but documented cases (backed up with DNA evidence) of female sharks reproducing asexually (parthenogenesis). Yes, I will explain that to you- a male isn't required to fertilize the eggs in order for young to develop. Very handy when stuck in an aquarium by yourself.

Hammerheads have the same range of hearing as us, with special emphasis on low-range frequencies, such that a wounded fish might make. They can detect electrical currents in the water that are one-half BILLIONTH of a volt. That's rather small. Kind of like a AA battery with its terminals almost a mile away. Very handy when hunting for stingrays, shrimp, crabs, snails, fish and smaller sharks.

There are so many other cool things about Hammerheads that I could blab on all day, but I need to clean my kitchen. So do a shark a favour and give them your helping hand. Don't eat shark fin soup, shark meat, wear shark leather, or take vitamins with shark liver oil in them. Or if you really have to partake of those things, try to limit your consumption a bit. The oceans would really appreciate it.

Happy Hallowe'en! Oh, and watch out for lightning.

1 comment:

Sraedi said...

Your blog is so fun! ; D