Take a bite out of “Shark Week”

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

GWS image
Great white sharks might seem scary, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend swimming with them, but they’re important animals that keep the ocean healthy.

Shark Week is here, so get ready for gnashing teeth and fins cutting through the sea! It’s a great year to dive into the world of sharks, since it’s the 40th anniversary of the horror movie Jaws. However, do these powerful creatures deserve their reputation as the bad boys of the sea?

Not only are they critical in maintaining the balance of nature, a Shark Week filmmaker discovered that sometimes they just want to smile for the camera! One of the massive sharks opened wide just meters away, but instead of devouring the man whole, the animal was just curious.

While these massive beasts can grow up to 21 feet long, weigh up to 7,000 pounds, and swim up to 40 miles per hour, they rarely attack humans.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is basically the ocean version of NASA, recently announced that the shark’s population levels are on the rise. See, following the movie Jaws, these poor creatures were hunted down by fearful humans for decades. Thanks to conservation efforts by the government and ordinary citizens, great white sharks are being hunted less. That’s good news, since the International Union for Conservation of Nature has them listed as vulnerable, which could one day mean they become endangered… or even worse, extinct.

Still, if you’re in North Carolina, you should definitely be cautious. They’ve had a major spike in shark activity recently, even though the state usually only has 1 or 2 a year. On July 1, they had their 24th attack for this year alone!

Featured image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Image of great white shark head courtesy of Brocken Inaglory on Wikimedia.