Roughly fifty of the approximately 350 species of sharks are considered dangerous for human swimmers. And although a scan of recent headlines may suggest that shark attacks have increased this year, experts report that statistically nothing has changed: annual worldwide shark attacks average about 100 per year. Whether sharks scare you or fascinate you, you can learn more at these five sites.
Vancouver Aquarium answers six common questions in bullet format in this single-page shark fact sheet. Where do sharks live? What makes a shark a shark? What do sharks eat? How do sharks reproduce? Are sharks dangerous? How do sharks detect their prey? Other AquaFacts pages cover whales, harbor seals, sea turtles and dolphins. There are also some excellent pages on marine biology careers such as marine mammal trainer and whale researcher.
Ready for interview with an actual shark? How about a nose-to-monitor encounter with a live sand tiger shark? Okay, I admit it, the "actual" shark is really a fictional shark but the Shark Video Cam is real. It streams from the 200,000-gallon, four story-tall Giant Ocean Tank exhibit at the New England Aquarium in Boston. My favorite Shark Week click is the pan, tilt, zoom 3-D virtual Shark Tank Encounter. You'll need free Ipix plugin to dive in. As you "swim" around the tank, click on the various sharks for articles and videos.
Sharks are among the world's oldest species. Some shark fossils date back more than 300 million years, making them older than the earliest dinosaurs. This nine-page article from How Stuff Works explores why sharks are such effective hunters and survivors. Unfortunately, many shark species are now threatened by over-fishing and accidental by-catch. The feature concludes with a great links section, and a cross reference of related How Stuff Works articles (including "How do people pull large objects with their teeth?")
"Costa Rica's Cocos Island boasts more sharks per cubic yard of water than perhaps any other place on the planet, including whitetip reef sharks, 40-foot whale sharks, and hammerheads that school by the hundreds." Join Howard and Michele Hall, two of the world's leading underwater filmmakers, as they "dive into this shark-infested paradise to shoot an IMAX large-format film." The QuikTime movies are excellent, but my favorite clicks are the educational features found in World of Sharks. Who's Who of Sharks describes the 30 families of shark species. The Hunt is an interactive exploration of the shark's six senses.
Zoom Sharks is a colorful and informative site for elementary students. It includes an Illustrated Shark Dictionary with over 385 terms defined ("Ichthyologist is a scientist who studies fish"); twenty-four black-and-white shark printouts to color; and instructions on making a shark pop-up greeting card. For first graders, there is a collection of ten shark-theme math games. Each printable game page has a dozen single-digit addition problems, and a shark question that can be answered by number/letter substitution.