The good, the bad, and the weird.


Photograph by Bill Curtsinger

Caution! This quiz bites.

True or false? Sharks lay eggs.

  • True
  • False

It's true—some sharks (including the horn shark and catshark) lay eggs. Others, such as the hammerhead, give birth to live young.

What are oceanic whitetip sharks known for?

  • Stalking shallow waters
  • Having large broods
  • Attacking shipwreck victims
  • Preferring very cold water

Grisly fame follows the oceanic whitetip shark, which has a reputation as a devourer of humans stranded at sea. Whitetips are often the first scavengers to arrive at sinking ships and downed planes.

Where is the world's largest shark sanctuary?

  • Mexico
  • Cook Islands
  • Greenland
  • Mozambique

In 2012, the Cook Islands established the world's largest continuous shark sanctuary. The 771,000-square-mile preserve in the South Pacific protects all sharks from targeted fishing.

What shark is responsible for the most unprovoked attacks on humans?

  • Basking shark
  • Blacknose shark
  • Great white shark
  • Tiger shark

According to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History, great white sharks were responsible for 314 of the 828 last known unprovoked attacks. In general, attacks are very rare. An ocean swimmer has just a one in 11.5 million chance of being bitten by a shark, the museum says.

When threatened, what do swell sharks do?

  • Double in size
  • Shed their skin
  • Flush bright red
  • Roll over on their backs

When threatened, a swell shark doubles in size by gulping water. Once safe, it makes a doglike bark and burps out the water.

What's the largest shark?

  • Great white shark
  • Thresher shark
  • Tiger shark
  • Whale shark

The whale shark is the largest shark—and the largest fish. It can reach lengths of 40 feet or more and weigh up to 20 tons.

What unusual thing can the bull shark do?

  • Change its skin color
  • Survive in freshwater
  • Make a screaming sound
  • Walk on the seafloor

Bull sharks have developed special adaptations that keep salt in their bodies. That means they can live in freshwater.

What famous figure helped the U.S. government develop shark repellent?

  • Julia Child
  • Andy Warhol
  • Ethel Kennedy
  • Frank Lloyd Wright

In the 1940s, future chef Julia Child helped the U.S. government develop repellents that would prevent sharks from prematurely detonating antisubmarine explosives.

How do nurse sharks sleep?

  • Floating near the surface
  • "Standing" vertically
  • In piles on the seafloor
  • Trick question—they don't

During the day, nocturnal nurse sharks often rest on the ocean floor in groups of up to 40 animals, piled on top of each other in caves and crevices.

Sharks with ampullae of Lorenzini can do what?

  • See more of the visible spectrum
  • Go a very long time without eating
  • Sense electric fields
  • Produce healing oils

Sharks with the series of sensors called ampullae of Lorenzini can pick up the electrical signals of animals around them. Lemon sharks, for example, can detect fields as weak as five-billionths of a volt per centimeter.





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