9 of the Weirdest, Wildest Sharks in the World
With their sandpaper skin, beady eyes, and razor-sharp teeth, sharks are strange and fascinating creatures. These are some of the weirdest.
This shark is the second-biggest fish in the ocean and can grow to a size of 40 feet and 10,000 pounds. But if you ever find yourself swimming near one, have no fear. They’re docile, slow-swimming, and like whales, just open their insanely giant mouths to filter plankton and other small sea creatures out of the water—sharks are an important part of the food chain—for their food.
These little sharks are so long and skinny that they seem to have more in common with an eel or sea snake than true cousins like great whites. But one of the most interesting things about these fish is that they seem to have the power of parthenogenesis—the ability to fertilize themselves and have offspring without a male bamboo shark. Scientists had no idea until a bamboo shark at a sea-life center in the United Kingdom had, what news reports at the time called, a “virgin birth.” That’s usually something seen in plants and smaller animals without backbones like insects.
Just look at it! This strange-looking shark has elaborate fringe around its head that serves as a type of camouflage as it hunts fish and invertebrates on the floor of the reefs. They have been known to accidentally nibble a human finger or toe if a diver or snorkeler gets too close, though, according to the world-class shark experts at the Florida Museum.
Two-headed bull shark
In 2013, a fisherman pulled a bull shark out of the water and found she was pregnant with a very special fetus: One with two heads! This wasn’t the first two-headed shark fetus or embryo scientists have found, but it was the first bull shark. Bull sharks are known as a fairly aggressive species—they’re thought to be responsible for the most fatal shark bites in humans after great whites and tiger sharks, according to the International Shark Attack File.
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These enormous sharks wear a beautiful pattern of stripes and dots on their skin, and they’re the largest fish in the ocean, growing to longer than 40 feet. Like basking sharks, they’re filter-feeders—and they eat pretty much anything that finds its way into their gaping mouths, from plankton to squid to schools of fish.
Despite the fact that these sharks can grow to an intimidating 7 feet long, they pose basically zero risk to people, according to the shark experts at the Florida Museum. Their docile nature—along with their beautiful, spotted skin—is one reason why they’re so popular with snorkelers and divers.
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Sand tigers have a crazy mouthful of teeth that go every which way. But what makes them most unique is that they’re the only shark that come up the surface for air—not to breathe it, but to suck it down into their stomachs, according to National Geographic. They store the air there to help themselves be more buoyant so they can float motionless as to not scare off their food.
Who knew a shark could be so…cute? These little fish are more vibrantly colored than many other sharks and rarely grow bigger than 2 feet, making them top picks for home and public aquariums, though there is one type of shark you’ll never see in an aquarium.
It’s hard to imagine a reason why a shark’s head would be shaped like a ball pein hammer. But having eyes set way out on the sides of their unique heads gives hammerhead sharks a bigger visual range for finding prey or seeing danger coming. They also have extremely sensitive sensory organs called “ampullae of Lorenzini” on their heads that let them more easily detect the electrical fields put off by stingrays (a favorite food) hiding under the sand. These are just a few of the most fascinating facts about sharks.