A dorsal fin that eerily breaks through the surface. A silver sheen. A toothy grin. There are just certain things that come to mind when thinking about sharks. But with more than 400 shark species in existence, there are bound to be a few unexpected surprises.
If you’re thinking of the goblins in Harry Potter, you’re not far off. But there’s another movie that would be more appropriate… Considered an ancient species, this shark compensates for its unusually long snout by protruding its jaws from its face to eat. But don’t worry too much – apparently it’s a deep water species not often seen by humans.
2. Wobbegong Shark
It sounds like a character from Alice in Wonderland, but this very real shark does something quite unusual for their kind: they lie camouflaged at the bottom of the ocean to feed on prey that comes too close. Technically referred to as a group of carpet sharks, Wobbegong Sharks resemble seaweed in appearance.
3. Basking Shark
The second largest shark after the whale shark, the basking grows to 6-8m (20-26ft) long. What makes this particular shark species a little, uhm, different is that they have mouths up to three feet wide which they hold open while they swim to filter water for plankton, crustaceans and small fish.
There isn’t a lot of imagination that went into the naming of the sawshark, as it is pretty much what the name says. There are 8 known species of sawsharks, characterised by a saw-like snout with teeth. They feed on squid, crustaceans and squid, smacking prey sideways to stun them.
5. Cookie cutter
One of the most fascinating sharks completes the list. The cookie cutter shark earned its name by sinking its teeth into bigger prey, then moving its body in a circular motion to remove a piece of flesh, simulating cutting cookies from dough. While measuring roughly 20 inches in length, they have been known to bite into whales and submarines.
No doubt this list would leave a few people feeling quite unsteady about what lies beneath the surface. However, I find it more fascinating than scary. Not only to the majority of these sharks feed on fish (and not humans), their interesting characteristics only makes me more grateful to be able to experience part of this underwater realm when I scuba dive.