By Anna Claybourne, Belinda Gallagher
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Extra resources for Sharks
Sharks can be trained to fetch rubber rings, just like a dog fetching a stick. Like most animals, sharks need to take in oxygen to make their bodies work. Like other fish, sharks breathe underwater using gills in their throats. Most sharks have five pairs of gills. Each gill is made up of a set of feathery, hair-like filaments full of blood vessels. Many sharks have extra breathing holes called spiracles, just behind their eyes, that take in water for the shark to breathe. As a shark swims, water flows into its mouth or spiracles, and past the gills.
Bull sharks are among the few sharks that can survive in fresh water. They swim hundreds of kilometres up rivers such as the Mississippi, the Amazon and the Zambezi. One group of bull sharks lives in Lake Nicaragua, a huge lake in Central America. Bull sharks are often known by other names, depending on where they live – such as the Zambezi river shark or the Nicaragua shark. Especially dangerous to humans the bull shark lurks in shallow water and rivers, where humans fish, wash and swim. Bull sharks have attacked humans so often, some experts think they may be the most dangerous sharks of all.
A shark’s stomach is very stretchy. It can expand so that the shark can consume a large amount of food in a short space of time. Just like humans, sharks have a heart that pumps blood around their bodies. Most sharks are cold-blooded, which means their blood is the same temperature as the water around them. A few sharks, such as mako and thresher sharks, are warm-blooded – they can heat their blood up so that they are warmer than their surroundings. This helps them to swim faster and move into colder areas of the ocean to hunt.