Sharks: The Animal Answer Guide

Sharks: The Animal Answer Guide


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Answering every conceivable question about sharks, authors Gene Helfman and George H. Burgess describe the fascinating biology, behavior, diversity (there are more than 1,000 species worldwide), and cultural importance of sharks, their close relationship to skates and rays, and their critical role in healthy ecosystems.

Helfman and Burgess take readers on a round-the-world tour of shark habitats, which include oceans as well as lakes and even rivers (as far up the Mississippi as St. Louis). They describe huge, ferocious predators like (Great) White and Tiger sharks and species such as Basking and Whale sharks that feed on microscopic prey yet can grow to lengths of more than 40 feet. The mysterious and powerful Greenland shark, the authors explain, reaches a weight of 2,200 pounds on a diet of seal flesh. Small (less than 2-foot long) Cookiecutter sharks attack other sharks and even take a chunk out of the occasional swimmer.

Despite our natural fascination with sharks, we have become their worst enemy. Many shark species are in serious decline and a number are threatened with extinction as a result of overfishing and persecution. Sharks: The Animal Answer Guide presents a perfect mix of current science, history, anthropology, intriguing facts, and gripping photographs. Whether your fascination with sharks stems from fear or curiosity, your knowledge of these animals will improve immensely when you consult this book.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421413099
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 05/15/2014
Series: The Animal Answer Guides: Q&A for the Curious Naturalist
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 1,156,125
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Gene Helfman is a professor emeritus at the Odum School of Ecology's Program in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development, University of Georgia. He is co-author of Fishes: The Animal Answer Guide, also published by Johns Hopkins. George H. Burgess is coordinator of museum operations and director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xiii

1 Introducing Sharks, Skates, Rays, and Chimaeras 1

What is this book about? 1

What are sharks and how are they classified? 3

How many kinds of sharks are there? 10

How did sharks get their name? 11

Where do sharks live? 12

When did sharks evolve? 13

What are the largest and smallest sharks alive today? 14

What is the fastest shark? 17

What is the largest shark that ever lived? 18

Where can I find fossil shark teeth? 19

How can you tell whether a fossil shark lived in a river, a lake, or an ocean? 20

Why are sharks important? 21

Why should people care about sharks? 21

2 Form and Function of Sharks 23

What is the metabolism of a shark? 23

Are sharks cold-blooded or warm-blooded? 24

What kind of teeth do sharks have? 25

How many teeth does a shark have during its lifetime? 29

Do a shark's teeth change during its life? 30

What is the skeleton of a shark made of? 32

Does a shark have senses like ours? 32

How good is a shark's sense of smell? 33

How well can sharks hear? 35

How well can sharks see? 36

Can sharks see color? 37

How do sharks detect electric fields? 38

Do sharks sleep? 41

Do sharks have scales like other fishes? 41

How do sharks breathe under water? 42

Must a shark keep swimming to breathe? 43

How do sharks swim? 43

How do a shark's fins function during swimming? 47

How long can a shark live out of water? 47

Why do hammerhead sharks have such strange heads? 48

What kind of brains do sharks have? 51

How large is a shark's brain? 51

3 Shark Colors 53

Why are so many sharks dark on top and light on the bottom? 53

Which sharks aren't countershaded? 54

Are any sharks colorful? 57

Are any sharks colorless? 61

What causes the different colors of sharks? 62

Is there a reason for the color patterns of sharks? 63

What color are a shark's eyes? 64

Do a shark's colors change as it grows? 65

Do a shark's colors change at different times of the day or in different seasons? 66

Is there much geographic variation in the color of a shark species? 66

4 Shark Behavior 68

Are sharks social? 68

Do sharks form schools? 70

Can sharks tell one another apart? 71

Do sharks fight? 73

Are any sharks territorial? 75

Do sharks socialize with other kinds of animals? 77

Why do sharks swim at the surface with their dorsal fins sticking out? 79

How smart are sharks? 79

Do sharks use tools? 81

Do sharks play? 82

Do sharks talk? 82

What is "tonic immobility"? 83

5 Shark Ecology 84

Do sharks migrate? 84

How do sharks navigate? 90

How many shark species live in rivers and lakes? 91

How far down in the ocean do sharks live? 94

Which geographic regions have the most species of sharks? 95

Which sharks are most or least abundant? 97

When during the day are sharks most active? 99

How do sharks survive the winter? 99

How do sharks survive droughts? 100

Are there sharks in the desert? 100

Do sharks have any enemies other than humans? 101

How do sharks avoid predators? 104

Do sharks get sick? 107

Do sharks have parasites? 108

How can you tell if a shark is sick? 111

Are sharks good for the environment? 111

6 Reproduction and Development 112

How do sharks reproduce? 112

Do sharks lay eggs or do they give birth to live young? 115

How long do female sharks hold young in their body? 118

How long does it take for a baby shark to hatch from an egg case? 119

Where do sharks lay their egg cases or give birth? 120

Do sharks give birth or lay their egg cases at the same times and places every year? 121

How many young does a mother shark produce? 121

How often do sharks reproduce? 124

What is a baby shark called? 125

Are all the baby sharks in a mother full siblings? 125

Do sharks care for their young? 125

How is the sex of a shark determined? 126

Can sharks reproduce asexually? 127

Is there such a thing as a hybrid shark? 128

Do male and female sharks live together? 128

At what size and age do sharks mature? 129

How long do sharks live? 131

How fast do sharks grow? 132

How can you tell the age of a shark? 132

7 Foods and Feeding 135

What do sharks eat? 135

How do sharks find food? 139

How do sharks catch their prey? 142

When do sharks feed most? 150

How often must sharks feed? 151

Do sharks chew their food? 152

How do sharks eat hard-shelled animals? 152

Do sharks store their food? 153

Must a shark turn on its back to feed? 154

Do sharks cooperate with one another to feed? 154

8 Sharks and Humans 157

Do sharks make good pets? 157

What is the best way to take care of a pet shark? 159

Are any medicines made from sharks? 160

Do sharks feel pain? 163

What should I do if I find an injured shark? 164

What should I do if I find a shark that looks diseased? 164

How can I see sharks in the wild? 164

How can I see sharks in captivity? 167

9 Shark Problems (from a human's viewpoint) 170

Are some sharks pests? 170

Can there be too many sharks in an area? 170

Are sharks dangerous to people? 171

Why do sharks attack people? 175

How likely are shark attacks? 177

Can scientists estimate the size and species of a shark from bite marks? 178

How can sharks be repelled? 179

Do sharks have diseases and are they contagious? 180

Is it safe to eat sharks? 182

What should I do if I'm attacked or injured by a shark? 184

10 Human Problems (from a shark's viewpoint) 185

Are any sharks endangered? 185

Will sharks be affected by global warming? 191

Are sharks affected by pollution? 192

How are sharks affected by litter? 192

How do people catch sharks? 192

Why do people hunt sharks? 193

How are shark fisheries managed? 193

What is bycatch and can it be reduced? 195

What is finning? 196

Is there such a thing as shark leather? 197

Is there such a tiling as shark jewelry? 198

What other parts of sharks are used by humans? 199

Are boats dangerous for sharks? 200

What can an ordinary citizen do to help sharks? 200

11 Sharks in Stories, Media, and Literature 202

What roles do sharks play in religion and mythology? 202

What roles do sharks play in Western religions? 205

Did early philosophers and naturalists mention sharks in their writings? 206

What roles do sharks play in various cultures? 206

What roles do sharks play in popular culture? 208

What roles have sharks played in art and literature? 216

12 "Sharkology" 221

Who studies sharks? 221

Can anyone study sharks? 222

Which species are best known? 222

Which species are least known? 223

How do scientists tell sharks apart? 224

How do scientists study the movements of large sharks? 225

Appendix A Sharks, Skates, Rays, and Chimaeras of the World 227

Appendix B Organizations That Promote the Study and Conservation of Sharks 230

Appendix C Websites That Provide Useful and Accurate Information on Sharks 232

Bibliography 235

Index 239

What People are Saying About This

"This book is sheer delight to read. The answers to every shark question imaginable are presented in wonderful depth. It’s a great book for anyone interested in a factual and broadly informative guide to all things "sharky." I highly recommend it."

Adam P. Summers

"This book is sheer delight to read. The answers to every shark question imaginable are presented in wonderful depth. It’s a great book for anyone interested in a factual and broadly informative guide to all things "sharky." I highly recommend it."

Philip Motta

"A wonderfully written and informative book that will be sure to excite and stimulate a new generation of shark biologists for years to come."

Gregor M. Cailliet

"A delightful, engaging, easy-to-read book introducing the cartilaginous fishes and covering their diversity, life histories, and special adaptations, with many fabulous illustrations. The chapters on 'sharks and humans' and 'sharkology' are balanced and refreshing. Helfman and Burgess have certainly done justice to this diverse, interesting, and intriguing group of fishes."

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