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Blogger Profile

David Manly
Freelance Science Journalist
Toronto Ontario CAN

David Manly is a freelance journalist who will blog about a wide range of topics that all fall under the umbrella of zoology and ecology. While his expertise lies with reptiles and amphibians, he has a wide array of knowledge and interest in all animal species - from the sponge to the great ape. He hopes you will enjoy his blog, as he plans to make it both entertaining and enjoyable (as well as fill it with interesting facts, tidbits, photos and videos).

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

NOTE: This will be my last post for a few weeks, as I am going on a trip to the UK with my brother. But, I am sure I will have plenty of stories to share both here on LabSpaces and on Twitter.

There are certain times throughout the year where you cannot help but feel a sense of contentment – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc...

But not me. I mean, I like birthdays and holidays and spending time with friends and loved ones, but none of those are my favorite time of the year. Mine is a hell of a lot more interesting, dangerous and just plain old fun. And wouldn't you know it; the week begins today, August 1, 2010.

What is it, you ask?

It's Discovery Channel's Shark Week!!!

Since 1987, Shark Week has been delighting fans and scientists alike, and I am no exception.

So, in honor of this, the best time of the year, I present you with information regarding three of my favorite sharks.

Number three – The Hammerhead Shark (of the family Sphyrnidae)

One of the most easily identifiable sharks thanks to its distinctively shaped head, which is flattened into what is known as a cephalofoil. Located at the end of each of the stalks are the eyes, which allow the shark a huge 360-degree view and enhanced binocular vision, allowing the shark to accurately judge depth and distance at a superior rate than other sharks.

These sharks rarely attack humans, as they have a rather small mouth, but they often travel in schools of over a hundred or more. Check out the video located below, for some amazing footage of Hammerhead sharks (located at 3:05 in the video).

Interestingly, back in 2007, it was revealed that a female Hammerhead gave birth in a Nebraska zoo after never having been exposed to a male. This was the first known example of the process known as parthenogenesis observed in cartilaginous fish such as sharks and rays (The original article can be found here). How could you not be fascinated by an animal like that?

Number two – The Great White (Carcharodon carcharias)

No list of sharks is complete without this one: The one everyone knows about, the man-killer, "Jaws" himself.

However, contrary to popular belief, the Great White is not the killer that the media and movies have made them out to be. Yes they are dangerous and have attacked people, but most are what are known as "test bites," where a shark investigates using the only sense that can physically interact with the world – taste.

They interact with objects using their mouth in order to determine if it is food or not food, and in most cases, the shark does not return to attack again. Most fatalities from shark bites occur from blood loss or shock after the fact, not from the attack itself.

However, they are still wild creatures that have the capacity and ability to kill. They must be respected and conserved, for they have been around for millions of years in the ocean. It would be a shame to lose such an animal.

Are you ready for my favourite shark?

Number one - The Blue Shark (Prionace glauca)

Take a look at the picture. Isn't it an amazing animal?

Blue sharks are very easy to distinguish from other sharks due to their colour, as well as their pointed snout and long fins. They are also one of the most widely distributed sharks, and one of the most commonly seen in Canada! They also often travel in packs, separated by both sex and size, which is highly unusual for sharks.

Like most sharks, blue sharks are not dangerous to humans. But, that has not stopped them being hunted for game and caught in by-catch. While the IUCN has it listed as Near Threatened, it is estimated that over 20 million sharks per year are killed through by-catch, which could have serious implications on the marine ecosystem.

I hope that I have inspired you to check out Discovery Channel's Shark Week, which begins August 1 – 8, 2010 on Discovery Channel. Who knows, you may even find something on that you can really sink your teeth into.

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Blog Comments

Genomic Repairman
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I love shark week! This video makes me think of the old Dave Chappelle Samuel Jackson beer skit.

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Cool post dude! Sharks are cool, and they scare me. Have fun on your vaca!

Rosalind Franklin University
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I remember coming across a Blue Shark when I was diving for SCUBA certification off the coast of Australia. Not only was it huge, but the way the sun reflected off of it made it look like it's skin was chrome. Awesome.

But my favorite is the Wobbygong! These ugly little beasts are only dangerous to humans because humans are stupid and agitate them while they are sleeping.

Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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That's an awesome looking shark, Justin. I want one for my aquarium :P
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