Every diver has their favorite marine creature. For many divers the top ‘bucket-list’ animal to see on a dive is a shark!
But these fascinating animals also have a fearsome reputation, that really isn’t fair. We want to debunk the myths and share some facts about sharks that prove why these animals really are the best in the ocean!
Shark Facts and Common Misconceptions
Sharks are a fascinating group of animals that have intrigued humans for centuries. They’re portrayed as vicious monsters in movies and sensationalized in news stories, but we love to learn more about them because they are so interesting!
In this post, we’ll explore some facts about sharks – both the facts you know and facts you may not be aware of. We’ll also uncover some shark myths that will make your next scuba dive with these incredible creatures even more exciting!
Incredible Facts About Sharks
Shark Fact #1
The average lifespan for a shark is anywhere from 25 to 30 years. The oldest recorded shark, discovered by scientists in 2016, was estimated to be 272 years old!
Shark Fact #2
Sharks have been around for more than 400 million years! This means they were swimming in the oceans long before there was ever an ice age, dinosaurs, or modern humans.
Shark Fact #3
There are more than 600 different species of shark and many facts about these creatures still remain a mystery.
Shark Fact #4
A sharks fearsome jaws are made up of hundreds of small teeth. When it eats, a shark’s jaw moves from side-to-side, and each tooth has a life span that lasts about 60 days before it falls out or is lost during feeding. A new tooth then takes its place as one becomes loose in the mouth.
This is why sharks teeth are commonly found by divers in places where sharks are known to frequent. (Remember, as responsible divers, to take only pictures and leave only bubbles!)
Shark Fact #5
The largest shark in the ocean is the whale shark. These gentle giants aren’t vicious hunters though, they are plankton eaters who graze on the floating algae on the surface of the oceans. A whale shark can grow up to 20 meters long!
But, the largest shark to ever live was a prehistoric Megalodon that grew up to 60 feet long. They hunted in packs and had large, flat teeth!
Shark Fact #6
Sharks are mainly nocturnal animals – they hunt mostly at night when it’s easier for them to see prey due to the moonlight.
Shark Fact #7
Often sharks are criminalized, and it’s not uncommon for many people to have a phobia of open water due to a fear of these incredible animals. In fact, the chances of being attacked by a shark are one in 11.85 million!
Common Shark Myths
Common misconceptions about sharks include that they are mindless killers, that sharks don’t feel pain or fear, and that all species of shark are dangerous. These myths have been debunked by facts and research, but humans often believe them to be true because it’s what we’ve seen in films!
Another shark myth is that they can smell human blood in the water. this simply isn’t true – sharks can only smell the blood that’s closer to them, so they may be attracted to your bleeding wound but not likely!
Are Sharks Really So Scary?
The fear people often feel when they see a shark is actually caused by their body language as well as human instinctual response: we know there could be danger if you’re seeing something with large teeth coming at you…
Whenever you encounter wild animals, whether that be below the ocean or on dry land, it is important to treat them with respect and monitor them. But divers successfully encounter many different and incredible species of sharks without repercussions daily across the globe.
Sharks in the Riviera Maya
In the Riviera Maya, we are lucky enough to have two shark seasons – with two very different shark species!
During the winter months, pregnant female bull sharks gather just off the coast of Playa del Carmen for their gestation period. They stay in this area until they give birth just before the start of springtime.
In the summer months, enormous and beautifully patterned whale sharks come to the Gulf of Mexico, north of Isla Mujeres, to suck up the plankton rich waters that are there.
It’s not possible to scuba dive with the whale sharks here, but you really don’t need to! They are so close to the surface that a snorkeling experience is all that’s needed.
Swimming with these giants of the ocean really is a bucket-list goal!
We Love Sharks!
Divers love sharks because they offer unforgettable diving experiences and our fascination with these animals will never die out!