Evolution

Sharkstiger Sharksoceans



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"The tiger shark is a deadly predator. It is a solitary hunter that will eat anything it can get down its throat-including other sharks," (Wildlife Fact-File" Our family lives a few minutes drive from Lake Erie in north-eastern Ohio. We are seeing more and more boats on the lake and in marinas. Why? Some say it is because of their fear of sharks and on the lakes boaters can be more relaxed. As I view the world map where sharks are, we as a family have visited many of the spots and our daughter lives minutes from the Pacific in Orange County. Sharks are an interest to our family and to many others. If their not, they better get informed before going on their next vacation if they are ocean lovers.

Ignorance can be a bliss but not when it comes to shark attacks. Humans are going in areas in our times that they never went before so we are more at danger. It is exciting and adventurous to go exotic places as we see our adrenal go up but this passion can get us in a lot of trouble. Most we can avoid. Risk can be minimized. Life is risk and the more exciting your life is the more risk you face. A no risk life is being dead.

I never saw a shark until I went to an aquariam in the US. I can't believe how ignorant I was. So were the people around me during my first decade of my life in Italy as well as all the times I returned there and throughout Europe. I do not remember the word shark being in the Italian vocabulary neither when I was a child or all times I was there during the 60's or 70's. Neither was it in all the countries I traveled in Europe. Nor was it in the Canary Islands or Morocco. Yet the beaches were generally packed and you could barely swim in the water without bumping into someone. Boats were all over full of people.

Sharks are not as common in the European beaches according to the map I'm viewing from the Wildlife Fact-File but there have been attacks during the time I was there and throughout history. This of course I learned or started paying attention to after all the beaches I went to and islands I visited in Europe, Africa, or the Holy Land. Not one word about sharks anywhere in the Holy Land. Perhaps the sharks are not there.

Florida is definitely a place where sharks are but I do not recall one word about sharks in all the spring breaks from college during the 60's. The beaches were packed and we never paid attention how far we went in the Atlantic. The only conclusion I can come to is that I was just plain lucky to not be where the sharks were or that my guardian angel was watching over me so I would not go where they were.

One would think that when we would have children my husband and I would start being knowledgeable about the subject of sharks. Well, we were just as ignorant. We put our children at risk and ourselves. Again luck and the guardian angels!

We went to Florida, the Carolinas, Virginia Beach, and California to the very places sharks were. There we swam and build castles many times before the children were five. There was not one place we heard anything about sharks yet we had several books in our huge library about sharks.

It was not until we were in a resort in South Carolina on the ocean that we began to think about and talk about sharks. Early in the morning many individuals and families would fish right on the ocean and when we went close to look at their catch we had no idea the fish they caught were sharks until they told us. The biggest one we saw was four feet long. The fish were absolutely beautiful and some were still alive. Our children of course wanted to touch them but we insisted that they would only look.

Furthermore, the fishermen told us that the fish we saw on the beach were baby sharks. Many were still alive. Our kids wanted to pick them up but we insisted that we would when we had a bucket and a shovel to pick them up. That was the first thing our kids wanted to do so we went back to the resort and got a bucket for my son and one for my daughter as well as their plastic shovels. My husband brought a little metal shovel we had in our van. Good thing we did since the plastic ones were useless. These fish were different from any other fish our children had seen and we watched them like hawks anytime they were looking at them. The little sharks kept swimming and being perky. We kept them on the balcony in the resort and even took one home to Ohio. It died on the way. We later found out that we were not allowed to take any fish to the resort or out of the area. As parents we were relieved since not even a hawk can see everything children do.

Our family had been to many aquariams and they had seen sharks but this was their first direct encounter with a shark. It was our first as parents too. The first thing that came to our mind was that if these baby sharks are on shore and the fishermen catch big ones alive, then sharks just may be in the water when we are in it. From that moment on we were never as comfortable and peaceful in the water with our kids. In back of our mind was the question, are the sharks close to us? When any fish touched us we wondered whether it was a shark. We tried not to communicate these feelings to our kids because we did not want them to be afraid to go in the ocean but at the same time we as parents had to teach them how to protect themselves as they got older.

It was time to learn about sharks. My husband and I as well as our children absolutely loved the ocean and we had no intention to spop going. In that particular trip we made it a point to find out how to avoid sharks where we were. Luckily we had friends who had been residents for a couple of decades and friends of ours owened the condominium we were staying in.

Our friends and those we met on the resort who were regulars adviced us to not swim before 9:00 A.M. nor past 6:00 P.M.. Luckily we had not since we always went in the water when the lifeguards were there and this is the time they were there. We were stupid enough to go in when we first arrived to the resort past six o'clock in the evening but no more. We shared all the information with our kids so they could start facing the reality of the danger of the ocean as well as the pleasure.

Before this time my husband and I always wondered why people were not swimming early in the morning or in the evening. Now we knew! Resorts, condominiums, hotels, and houses were on shore and yet people were sitting on lawn chairs away from shore or just walking or running on the beach. Many walked their pets and not even the pets went in. Many rode their bikes. No one was in the water but we did see many fishing boats. People started walking at dawn and way after dusk. Once in a while we did see people jumping in or even swimming in moonlight. It may have been their first time. It was very tempting to go in since the moolight was beautiful and the water was smooth as ice and warm. This seductive beauty of the ocean would not seduce us any more.

My husband and I began reading the shark books we had in our library and watch programs that National Geographic provided about sharks. We also paid attention to the news and newspapers on shark attacts. Usually it was in places we had been or planned to go but with caution. We continued to go to those beaches but did not do anything stupid since we were no longer stupid. We did not hide anything from our kids and they viewed the news and read the articles with us. The programs of National Geographic taught them and us much about sharks. The simple fact was that sharks are in certain parts of the ocean and we had to be cautious when we joined them in their territory.

Sharks are in many tropical and coastal waters throughout the world in winter but spread north and south during the summer. The tiger shark is prized by sport fishermen but does not have much commercial value than many other sharks. Because of this it is not under no direct threat as other sharks are.

Tiger sharks are 10-16 feet on average but can be up to 23 feet. Their weight on the average is 2,200 pounds. Tiger sharks are ovoviviparous. This means that they produce eggs which hatch in the female's body. Gestation is about 9 months. The number of young are 10-90. Their lifestyle is solitary and nomadic. Their diet is anything they can catch. The lifespan of a tiger shark is 30-40 years. The related species are the requiem shark. It is a large family which includes the lemon shark, blue shark, and bull shark.

What are the special features of the tiger shark? The head is wedge-shaped which gives it minimum side resistance, allowing the shark to turn quickly. It normally swims using sinuous movements of its body. Its high back and dorsal fin act as a fulcrum, allowing it to spin
quickly on its axis.

It has electro-receptors in different points in its body which are small pits containing electrical sensors which enable the shark to pick up even the tiniest muscle movement of its prey so it can locate its victim in the dark. Pectorals are long fins that act like wings and provide lift as the fish swims through the water. Its large and oily liver helps it to keep it from shrinking. The tiger shark's long upper tail lobe provides thrust for sudden bursts of speed.

In looking at a photo of a tiger shark swimming its direction, one cannot notice how focused it is. There is no hesitation in where and what the tiger sharks wants to do. No one or nothing will stand in its way. It is more focused than a torpedo or a missile. Another photo shows just the head of a tiger shark with its mouth open. What a scary sight! How could one survive the bite of those sharp and precise teeth? Most of us do not want to find out.

Wildlife-Fact File tells us, "Sharks were once thought to be instinctive killing machines, but it is now believed that they learn to hunt by experience. Their scent of smell is so important to a shark that nearly two-thirds of its brain is devoted to processing scent information."

What are their habits? Solitary tiger sharks cruise the coastal and offshore waters of tropical seas. It travels about 50 miles a day rarely stopping except to eat. During the summer the tiger shark followes warm water currents as far south as New Zealand, north of Japan, or the northern United States. In winter it stays closer to the equator near the coral reefs of the Caribbean and the Pacific and Indian Oceans. This is the largest and most dominant of all the reef predators, eating anything it can find.

Tiger sharks tend to stay in the deep waters on the fringe of reefs. Occasionally they penetrate the channels to attack in the shallows. It glides day and night over the reef and ocean beds. When they are young, the dark stripes that give the tiger shark its name are clearly visible on a young animal but will fade away as it grows older.

How do tiger sharks hunt and what do they eat? It is an indiscriminate feeder. It will eat anything. Its main diet is fish but it will also eat squid, sea turtles, seals, and smaller sharks. Sometimes car license plates and gasoline cans have been found in its stomach. A tiger shark has a large mouth and massive, powerful jaws lined with flat, triangular, notched teeth with serrated edges. As teeth are broken or lost, new teeth grow in to replace them. Dentists would be out of business if humans had that power!

While the tiger shark has good eyesight, it relies mostly on other senses to track and catch its prey. Its acute sense of smell enables it to pick up even the faintest traces of blood in water and follow them to their source. This is a fact that the wise people on the beach must remember if they have any wounds with fresh blood to definitely not go swimming for their sake and the sake of those swimming with them. In addition, if one is hurt in the water or has a bloody nose to get out at once.

The tiger shark is sensitive to low-frequency waves produced by movements in the water. Swimming in the dark where sharks are may be an adventure you may never return from. It is so very inviting and romantic but save the moonlight swimming and skinny dipping for the lakes or pools. Even the tiny nerve and muscle twinges reach its sensitive electroreceptors, so the shark can pinpoint a prey in the darkest, murkiest water.

"Once the tiger shark has located its prey, it may circle it for a while or nudge it with its snout before making the kill. The final attack is frenzied; the shark will devour anything in its path." So the Wildlife Fact-File says! A photo illustrates how its powerful jaws and teeth are pushed out as the tiger shark closes in on its prey.

How do they breede? While most fish produce large numbers of eggs that are fertilized by sperm ejected into the water, sharks breed by internal fertilization similar as mammals do.
Mating for the female can be painful since the male will often use his teeth to hold her still. One of the male's pelvic fins is introduced into the female's genital opening to act as a guide for the sperm during mating.

Their young may be from 10-80 in each brood. They are nourished inside their mother's body for nine months like humans. Unlike babies, they are completely independent at birth and have a full set of teeth. At once they swim away and begin to hunt for themselves immediately.

There is a mystical photo of a tiger shark in deep blue water with a diver next to it. It is sure an artistic photo but few divers would have the skills to survive. The Wildlife-Fact-File book states, "The tiger shark has been responsible for more fatal attacks on man than any other species of shark. Because it will eat anything, including man, it is one of the most feared sharks in tropical waters." Ladies and gentleman, this is a fact you cannot egnore if you enjoy going to beaches and swimming in the ocean.

Tiger sharks may attack people but not eat the remains. There are accounts of tiger sharks swallowing their human victims abound.

One report says that a tiger shark attacked two men and a woman on a life raft. It killed and swallowed one of the men. It then came back to snatch the woman. Their companion reached the safety of a nearby reef and escaped unharmed. Having a raft or a boat just doesn't protect people from shark attacts! Laying on a boat in the ocean is certainly peaceful but if sharks are around it is a myth. If a tiger shark is there be ready for a violent war which as a human you have no chance to win.

Some experts and divers insist that tiger sharks are really quite gentle despite such tales or data. Most people instinctively would say that one has to be insane to believe that. The common perception for most people is that a tiger shark means trouble and death.

"The tiger shark gets its name because of the dark stripes across its back. It is an efficient killer, armed with an extraordinary sense of smell and serrated teeth that can slice through flesh and bone. A proven man-eater, it is one of the most feared sharks in the world." So the Wildlife Fact-File concludes.

We as humans are drawn to the beauty and mystery of the oceans and their shore but we better be aware of its dangers so we can enjoy its beauty and stay alive. As the world becomes smaller and smaller people will want more and more adventures of exotic beaches but beware and before you book such a vacation. Your return trip may go to waste!

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