Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fresh Water Shark

[edit: One of my favourite subjects - shark related injuries and falities in fresh water - getting a replay]

No, there are no true 'man' eating freshwater sharks. However, the bull shark will leave the ocean and travel up fresh water rivers and end up inland. So far inland that getting eaten by a shark while catching a quick swim in a freshwater body of water is probably the last thing you would be thinking about.

Oh hai!  Fresh water is....refreshing!

The 'people getting eaten by sharks in fresh water' happened a long time ago in 1916. That was the last century! It was a series of shark attacks along the coast of New Jersey between July 1 and July 12, in which four people were killed and one injured. Here is an interesting article on the details and timeline of this shark story.

Since then, the people who debate such things have argued about what type of shark could have done this and the bull shark is most frequently blamed although there are pictures purported to be of the shark that was responsible and it's a great white. Which means there was another shark attacking people and since great whites can't survive in fresh water for long, my money is on the bull shark they didn't catch.

And blah blah, yada yada, sharks don't normally attack humans...there were extenuating circumstances. The attacks occurred during a deadly summer heat wave and polio epidemic in the northeastern United States that drove thousands of people to the seaside resorts of the Jersey Shore. Scholars believe that the increased presence of sharks and humans in the water led to the attacks in 1916. Really scholars? More people and more sharks in the water together lead to the attacks in 1916? I'm no scholar but I could have come with that little bit of wisdom.

A while ago I posted a video about a golf course in Australia that had bull sharks in one of their water features. They got washed into the mini lake during a flood and have been thriving there ever since. Bull sharks don't even need to visit their salt water home to refresh apparently.


Golf course water trap, now with real sharks!

Only three types of sharks are known to consistently attack humans. Great White, Tiger and Bull sharks. Whites and tigers get all the publicity but the lesser known Bull sharks are the most dangerous sharks in the world, according to many experts and me. This is because they're an aggressive species of shark, and they tend to hunt in waters where people often swim: along tropical shorelines. Yeah, what about the whole swimming up fresh water rivers and ending up thousands of miles into the interior of South America via the Amazon? To me, this makes them the most dangerous because you're not safe in salt or fresh water. At least I know where I can find a great white, or more importantly where I'm not going to find a great white, ya know what I'm saying? Also the bull shark is the expert ambush hunter, attacking in remote places and many of the injured people, not recognizing  they have been bitten by a shark, attribute their injury to other water dwelling meat eating predators normally found in the area. Like, I don't know, alligator snapping turtles maybe.

Other sharks must keep salt in their bodies but bull sharks have developed special adaptations—the way their kidneys function and special glands near their tails—that help them keep salt in their bodies even when they're in freshwater. Scientists are still studying these sharks to figure out why they developed this unusual ability.   

Humans are not on their diet, they mainly eat fish but we all know sharks will eat a suit of armour if they're inclined so I disregard the diet list.

Bull sharks will head butt their prey before biting it and that's what earned them the "bull" designation. Also their wide faces and far apart eyes give them a bovine appearance. Really? OK. A head butting technique is more goat-like, I think. And they eat anything. Goat shark seems an apt name.

Goat shark

Bull sharks can grow from 7 to 11.5 feet (2.1 to 3.4 meters) in length.

Bull sharks can weigh between 200 and 500 pounds (90 and 230 kilograms).

When it's warm, some bull sharks swim as far north as Massachusetts. Got any rivers emptying into the ocean in Massachusetts? Just wondering...

The bull shark is known by several other names but oddly, the can-eating, head-butting, goat shark is not one of them.

There are about 375 species of sharks. The three kinds of sharks that are most likely to attack humans are the bull shark, the great white shark, and the tiger shark. Me? I'm not afraid of great white sharks. Or tiger sharks. That's because I don't swim in salt water. Anymore. Bull sharks are on my top five list of things to fear.


And here I am high fiving who I'll eat next!

Bull sharks are not on the endangered species list. However people fish for bull sharks for food, for their hides, and for oils. Researchers believe that their populations may be shrinking.  Don't cry for them, people.  


My next adaptation will be
puddles and bathtubs!

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