Sharks belong to the class Chondrichthyes, or cartilaginous fishes. They do not have any bones, but instead have a skeleton made of cartilage. They have 5, 6 or 7 paired gill slits on the side of their head. They also have placoid scales, called dermal denticles and pectoral fins not attached to the head above their gill openings. When people think of a shark, they usually have one image in their mind and it’s that of the great white. A shark with a large dorsal fin protruding from the water, a torpedo -shaped body and huge teeth. In reality, there are over 536 different species of shark, all of them varying in size and appearance.
Learn more about these amazing animals with the fact pages linked below.
From their fins to their teeth, sharks are built for life in the ocean. Learn more about their anatomy and how it helps them survive underwater.
Sharks have the same 5 senses we do, but they can also detect pressure changes and electrical currents. Learn more about their super senses.
Sharks have three main methods of reproduction. They have long pregnancies ( gestation periods) and regardless of method, they do not produce a lot of babies (offspring).
How do we save sharks? What are shark sanctuaries? Fin bans? Finning bans? How can YOU help save sharks?
What is shark tagging? How do scientists tag sharks? What do they use? What do the tags do?
How do we study sharks? What tools and equipment do we use? What questions do we ask?
How do we use photos and videos to learn about sharks? To protect them?
Ebert, D. A., Dando, M., Fowler, S., & Jabado, R. (2021). Sharks of the World: A Complete Guide (Wild Nature Press) (Illustrated ed.). Princeton University Press.