Share it! Science : Psyched about Sharks?!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Psyched about Sharks?!

It is "Shark Week" on the Discovery Channel, an event loved by many and loathed by others. The scientific community has not always been positive about this annual television event, as it can lean toward fiction or sensationalism. We hope that the programming will be scientifically accurate, educational and entertaining.

Regardless of your personal opinions about TV programs about sharks, we can all agree that humans have had a long-standing fascination with sharks. In light of sharks in the news after recent shark attacks and the infamous "Shark Week", it seems like the right time to investigate some shark science and activities!

image: by Zac Wolf CC BY-SA 2.5
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Researchers with the University of Hawaii and the University of Tokyo are using cameras mounted on shark fins to learn more about their behavior. For some great pictures from this work, check out Live Science's article here. One of the most fascinating things the scientists have learned is that throughout the day the sharks spend time in different depths of the ocean. They also have come to the conclusion that some sharks are actually positively buoyant. In other words, the sharks' physiology is such that they tend to float to the surface and have to work to keep themselves deep in the water.

Shark Week Activities Education Resources

There are many resources and activities out there for learning about sharks. Although school is out for the summer, these would be fun at-home investigations or great ideas for summer camp:
  • The Shark Research Institute- Handouts for Teachers
  • Chomp! An activity about shark tooth adaptations
  • Shark Sizes- compare your height to the length of different sharks
  • Sharks: Taking a Bite Out of the Myth. Use population data about sharks to better understand their behavior.
  • A Shark's Sense of Smell. Discover how sensitive a shark's sense of smell is.


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