Some of the friendliest shark species do exist and while nobody wants to brush up against a fin in the ocean, the media does a poor job of portraying these fish, for there are actually some friendly sharks out there. What’s amazing to me is that the ancient fossils found date these amazing fish back to 420 million years ago, and since then, they’ve diversified into approximately 470 species! There have to be some friendly shark species in that number, right? I’ve found 7 of the friendliest shark species that really pose no danger to humans or divers to prove it!
One of the friendliest shark species I’ve actually seen resides off the coast of California, which happens to be where I live. The dotted pattern is what gives them their name. They are harmless and relatively small in size, measuring 5 feet long. Schools of them can be spotted swimming the Pacific coastline, as far north as Oregon and as far south as Mexico. They favor sandy, muddy flats and they swim really close to the bottom of the ocean floor, where they forage for food. They come alive at night, so you’re more likely to find them lying passively still, if you’re ever swimming during the day in the La Jolla cove!
Another bottom dweller, zebra sharks are pretty relaxed as far as sharks go! Known for the dots on their back, and being longer in length at 8 feet, these guys can be found off the coast of the Philippines and the Indo-Pacific region. Similar to the leopard shark, they enjoy resting on sandy flats, close to coral reefs, and they are nocturnal too, which is when they feed on sea snakes and small fish.
Known for their unique head shape (which looks like the end of a household tool – well sort of!), it was thought that the heads on these sharks evolved to give them panoramic vision. However, their head shape gives them stealth and agility of movement when approaching their prey. These sharks roam in temperate and tropical waters, swimming the coastlines and continental shelves around the globe. Surprisingly, they grow up to 20 feet long (lengthy in the shark world) and unlike most sharks, they swim in schools during the day and hunt solo at night.
This shark species even sounds nice! They look more like Manta rays due to their flat bodies and fact that they swim parallel to the bottom of the ocean floor, yet they are a shark and have powerful jaws and sharp teeth, just like their carnivorous cousins. Angel sharks are on the critically endangered red list (by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature), meaning this species is threatened to become extinct.
Whale sharks have been known to give divers rides on their backs and the young sharks tend to play with humans and really don’t pose any threat to us. These heavyweights (21 tons) swim in tropical waters and can be found off the coasts of Belize, Western Australia, Mexico, Sri Lanka and Mozambique. One of the largest gatherings ever encountered was off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, when a school of 400 whale sharks was sighted in 2011.
The bluntnose sixgill shark, also known as the cow shark, tends to dwell on the bottom of the ocean floor. Little is know about it, however it is frequently studied due to this fact. This shark is tan-brown in color with spots on its fins. It moves quite sluggishly, but it can move at high speeds when preying on its favorite food – salmon and mollusks.
The bigeye thresher shark is known for its large eyes – 4 inches, which move upwards in their sockets. You’re more likely to see this lengthy shark species (12 feet long) in tropical seas – think Venezuela and Brazil, although they have been spotted off Cuba and Florida too. They swim in deep waters during the day and surface to feed at night, when their prey literally gets stunned from the whips of their long tails! These sharks feature on the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) list, for they’re pursued by sports fishermen off the coast of New Zealand, South Africa and the U.S.
Would you have ever thought that friendly sharks like these exist?
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