JUN 27, 2014 01:01 PM PDT

Shark Week 2014

WRITTEN BY: Akshay Masand
Feared by most but still loved by many, sharks are one of the most fascinating and mystic creatures prowling the Earth's seas. Essentially unchanged for the last 400 million years, sharks are defined as a fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a streamlined body, ranging in size from the two foot pygmy shark to the giant 50-foot whale shark. There are more than 250 different species of sharks currently identified, making it one of the most diverse animals on the planet.

Most members of the Shark family are predatory, though some are more ferocious than others. Ironically, the largest of the shark species, the whale shark and basking shark, are virtually harmless plankton eaters. Sharks have an extraordinary sense of smell when it comes to hunting prey, and have been known to be able to sense visually undetectable amounts of animal blood dispersed into the water from long distances. And though sharks kill only a few people each year, media coverage and movie portrayals of attacks have marked sharks as voracious killing machines. Even though that is far from the truth, our fears and hunting habits of these wonderful fish threaten to purge these vital predators from the oceans.
 
 
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