YDS-2018-Spring-03

April 1, 2018 ÖSYM | osym
~2 mins

More mythology surrounds the shark than any other creatures in the ocean. This is partly a symptom of their colossal size – adult male great whites can measure in excess of five metres; the temptation for humans to add a metre here or there after reported sightings is irresistable. Sharks are also, by nature, mysterious. Scientists still know next to nothing about great whites’ breeding habits; a birth in the wild has never been observed. One of the biggest great white shark myths is that the creature, disabled by its notoriously poor vision, often mistakes surfers and scuba-divers for its main prey – seals and sea lions. “Completely false,” says Richard Aidan Martin, director of the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research in Vancouver, Canada. After observing 1,000 predatory attacks on sea lions by great whites for five years, he states that the sharks rocket to the surface and crush their prey with incredible force; however, they usually approach humans with leisurely or undramatic behaviour. Martin points out that great whites are curious and investigative animals, which is what most people do not realise. When great whites bite something unfamiliar to them, whether a person or a sea creature, they are looking for tactile evidence about what it is. They usually throw humans out of their mouth after an exploratory bite rather than swallow them for food because humans are too bony. To add more, great whites must be extremely selective about their diet. Their digestive tracts function very slowly, and eating the wrong thing would slow the shark down for days and stop them from consuming anything else.