Statistics Versus Myths

Total Numbers

  • 354 species of shark have been listed by the FAO, ranging from 15 centimeters (squaliolus laticauda  to 15 meters (the harmless whale shark)
  • 35 species known to have attacked man at least once, and a dozen habitually do so. 
  • The biggest Great White ever caught was a female of 6.4 meters, which was caught off Cuba in 1945. It weighed 3312 kilos and its girth reached 4.5 meters; several lorries were needed to tow and transport it. A 10 meter specimen is also said to have been captured, but neither photo nor expert account exists, only subjective statements. The record specimen are always female, since in the sharks, females have larger measurements than males.
  • The power of the shark's jaw is phenomenal; the highest recorded with a specially designed apparatus was 3.75 tonnes per Cm  for a shark of 3 meters. That of a 6 meter Great White Shark much be more spectacular, but it has never been possible to accurately measure it.  
  • The fastest shark is the Mako, which can reach 50 km/hr (the fastest of all fish is the sail fish. at 113 km /h, followed by the swordfish at 95 km/h). Man's speed in the water is farcical, even compared with the slowest-swimming fish.  
  • The growth rate of sharks varies according to species, age, and maturity: from 33 millimeters per year to 30 centimeters: generally speaking, it is always slow.
  • The record for attacks in a single place is at Durban (South Africa), in 1957, with 7 attacks(5 in which resulted in death) within 107 days.
  • In august of 1960, when a boat capsized at the mouth of the Komati, on the coast of Mozambique, a school of sharks caused carnage among the survivors, mutilating 46 out of the 49 people.
  • The speed of a tooth replacement in the flesh eating shark is of the order of  7-8 days for the smallest species and from 6 to 12 months for the largest ones, but their replacement is immediate at the time of an attack.
  • The shark can smell in dilutions of the order of 1 part to 500 million parts of water, and extracts of flesh of the grouper fish of the order of 1 part to 10,000 million.
  • In the case of certain large sharks, each seminal vesicle contain 20 to 25 liters of seminal fluid, or 40-50 liters of sperm for a large male. 
  • The interval between insemination and the emergence of  the young shark is 10 to 22 months( one of the longest gestation periods in the animal world).
  • All the sharks are capable of going at least 6 weeks without eating; the record observed in an aquarium is 15 months (by one of the species known as the "swell sharks").
  • men's most feard predator non the less constitutes on his food sources;306,125 tonnes, or 10,000 Semi-Trailers, was the tonnage of sharks caught for food purposes in 1984.  
  • Fishing  is one of the means of studying sharks, and a means of tagging them on the dorsal fin. In this way in California, 60,000 sharks (of 47 different species) were captured and tagged in a 23 year period. Nineteen hundred were found again, including one 6,500 kilometers from California and another 19 years later.
  • The biggest fish ever caught on a sport- fishing line was a Great White Shark of 1221 kilos, off the Australian coast., on a 60-kilo line. The biggest ones broke the lines.
  • The oldest ancestor of the shark was discovered as a fossil, the "cladoelache", 350 million years old-this is 100 million years before the dinosaurs appeared; man first appeared 3.5 million years ago. 


Certain falsehoods concerning Sharks

  • Sharks attack in order to feed. The image of the insatiable shark that swallows everything it encounters in order to assuage a hunger that is never satisfied is one of the most false. Over 1500 cases of shark attacks on on men ,50-75% of these attacks have nothing to do with nutrition.
  • Hunger does not exist in sharks. This is untrue. The shark is capable of very long periods of fasting, and it seems that it may have periodicity in its eating habits. During these "eating phases" it is evident that we can talk of "hunger", and attacks then will be different in their determination and development.
  • The shark is a primitive animal. The shark is far more sophisticated than believed it to be 20 years ago. Besides sense organs that are outstanding and unique in the animal world, the size of its brain is closer to that of birds (proportionately speaking) or of certain primitive mammals than to that of any other fish. The exceedingly sensitive character of the olfactory organs in the shark, reflected at brain by highly developed olfactory lobes. Such a creature would not have come through 350 million years without appreciable evolution.
  • The shark have a very poor eyesight. Not only can a shark see contrasts well, but it has good night vision thanks to a histological structure peculiar to nocturnal animals. It can even see colors.
  • The sharks pupil is at all times widely dilated ,adding to its terrifying appearance. This is false: the iris has an ovular shape and the pupil can be dilated  and constricted very rapidly. Some species possess a third eyelid which closes at the moment of the attack.
  • The shark does not eat dead bodies. In 1950, Mr warne, an Australian fisherman, found the barley digested right hand of a human being in a stomach of a 1.5 meter Tiger Shark. The police identified it as belonging to Peter Szot, who's body minus the right hand had been recovered on the beach eight days earlier, with a bullet in the head. Mr. Szot had not committed suicide after having lost his hand but before.

Highlights from the survival manual of the US Army-1973

"The shark is a cowardly fish which moves about slowly, easily frightened by surprises in the water, noise, movement and unusual shapes. This last point alone would be enough for a shark not to attack man"

Best ways to combat a Shark according to this manual:

  • Strike the shark on its soft and vulnerable snot or in the eyes.
  • Stab it in the gills
  • Swim outside the line of charge, catch hold of a pectoral fin as it passes, and ride for as long as you can hold your breath, and if you can manage to cling to it, the shark might lose some of its vice and regain its natural cowardice.
  • If you carry a knife. open up his stomach. On opening the stomach you cause water to enter- that will kill it almost instantly. 

The above absurdities were the instructions Us Army pilots and marines were suppose to immerse themselves before their missions.

The present-day "survival book" of the American  army is reduced to the basics, as if the authorities had opted for a helicopter behind every GI, rather than for a good manual in every battledress.