Join us fellow Travel Freak’s as we dive into the mysterious world of sharks on this Wild Wednesday to find a Cyclops shark, beach safety tips, and research on these misunderstood creatures of the sea. 

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(photo via Melody Schubert)

Mention the word shark, and the first thought that comes to mind is – man eater. Actually, sharks prefer seals to humans, although, we’re often mistaken for their prey.As many divers and swimmers know, the population of the great white sharks is increasing along East and West Coasts of the United States. These predators were in serious decline in the 1970’s and 1980’s until state and federal regulations were established in the 1990’s. These regulations not only protected the great white sharks, they also protected many of the species of marine mammals that great whites feed on.Among the places with an increase in sightings of sharks is the New England region, where there is a thriving seal populations.

Though the number of shark sightings has increased, they are not necessarily presenting a bigger threat, as there has not been a shark-related death in New England since 1936. LaCrosse also attributes many of the shark sightings to basking sharks, which do not eat mammals and present no threat to humans. However, their dorsal fins resemble that of great whites which raises fears among beach-goers.

The Discovery Of A Cyclops Shark

Enrique Lucero León, a fisherman caught a dusky shark near Cerralvo Island in the Gulf of California, which was not uncommon. It was only when he began cleaning the shark that Enrique realized the female was pregnant. He didn’t know it then, but was about to uncovered a rare discovery; a Cyclops shark – picture Mike from Disney’s movie, Monster Inc., and add fins.
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(photo via Enrique Lucero León)
This congenital condition is called Cyclopia, and does occur in several animal species, including humans. Jim Gelsleichter, a shark biologist at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville notes that Cyclops sharks have been documented by scientists a few times before, also as embryos. He believes the fact that none have been caught outside the womb suggests Cyclops sharks don’t survive long in the wild.The Dusky species of sharks Enrique reeled in can grow up to 13 feet long, and are commonly found Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.The teeth of the Dusky sharks are what set them apart from the great whites that have teeth that match both on the upper and lower jaws. While the Dusky sharks does have broad upper teeth that are shaped like triangles with serrated edges. It’s their bottom teeth that are unique to these specific species of sharks; they’re rather straight and pointed. When he Dusky shark grabs its prey, the lower teeth hold it in place while the upper ones chomp down like a bread slicer.

Safety At The Beach – Watch For Colored Lifeguard Flags

Heading to the beach soon, then here is some advice from Wyatt Werneth, Spokesman for the American Lifeguard Association – Watch for the colors of the flags the Lifeguard’s host above their stations.
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(photo via City Of Clearwater, Florida)
When you see a PURPLE flag is raised at the beach, it means that marine life was spotted in the water. This warning could include sea life such as sharks, jellyfish, man-of-wars, and even sea lice.
When a RED flag is raised, it means there is a High hazard, which can include dangerous rip currents and surf conditions, and you should avoid going in the water.When these flags are raised, Wyatt recommends that people exit the water calmly, “You don’t want to splash and make a sudden rush to the shoreline and panic. If a shark is sighted, get out of the water.”
To make the most of your beach vacation, remember to stay alert, ocean conditions can change quickly, and have respect for marine life. “Realize that humans are land animals, and anytime we go into the ocean we are challenging ourselves,” Greg Skomal, a Shark Specialist at the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries, said. “It’s a wild environment.”

Great White Shark Research

To learn more about the mysterious world of sharks researchers have begun tagging great white sharks.

In July the nonprofit shark research group OCEARCH, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) began the most ambitious great white shark-tagging mission undertaken in history.

During the initial tagging, researchers drew blood and tissue samples to test their health and diet, and also attach GPS tags to track their swimming patterns. These measures are being taken by these groups to understand the elusive great white sharks, and to educate the public on their importance to the ocean.

Discover More About Sharks

To learn more about the migration of sharks tagged by nonprofit shark research group OCEARCH visit their website.

Wild Wednesday Facts

  • If you are afraid of sharks, don’t go swimming in Fiji! Namena Reserve, located off the southern coast of Fiji’s second largest island, is a protected space for sharks with strict no-fishing laws. As a result, the shark population is thriving. You can find up to four times the amount of sharks in the Reserve as compared to non-protected zones.
  • Although it’s presumed most shark attacks on humans usually only occur because sharks mistake swimmers for seals or other tasty marine life, a Australian company is looking to decrease that risk by creating anti-shark wetsuits to help protect swimmers and surfers from attacks. The “Diverter” wetsuit is colored with black and white stripes, to mimic poisonous fish that also sport that pattern. The “Elude” model uses blue wavelike patterns to camouflage swimmers within the water. While they can’t be proven to deter shark attacks with any certainty, the company is continuing to test them in shark-infested waters. 
The conservation efforts to help the great white shark populations recover is going well. Yet, the ultimate goal is help other species of sharks like the dusky’s, rays, and other threatened wild life in the oceans return from the edge of extinction.

Have you had a shark encounter?

 


With a passion for travel and creativity, Journalist and Photographer, Melody Schubert let’s her imagination guide her as she explores the world. For her, everyday is an opportunity to embrace something new, and explore intriguing and overlooked destinations that express the heart of a region, and share these discoveries with readers of Travel Freak. She is also Editorial Executive for USA Travel Magazine - http://www.usatravelmagazine.com/ where she shares more of travel interests.

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