Sharks prey on a variety of animals, but there are some lesser-known objects that sharks have also consumed. The Discovery Channel is airing their highly-anticipated Shark Week on Sunday, August 12th, and in anticipation, has released a list of some of the most bizarre shark snacks.
As of 2012, Shark Week has been on the air for 25 years. But for over 400 million years, sharks have been some of the biggest and baddest animals around. There are over 350 species, ranging in size from the enormous whale shark (the biggest fish in the sea!) to the teeny tiny deepsea dogfish shark.
Unfortunately, these kings of the sea need our help. According to advocacy group Oceana, "Of the 307 shark species assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 50 are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered, but only the white, whale and basking sharks are protected internationally under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Sharks now represent the greatest percentage of threatened marine species on the IUCN Red List of threatened species." Finning, bycatching and fishing pressure are the main threats to sharks.
Contrary to what you've learned from "Jaws," sharks may be less scary to us than we are to them. Of the hundreds of shark species, only 20 actually snack on humans. And in 2011, only 12 deaths occurred from unprovoked shark attacks, says the International Shark Attack File. Yet director George Burgess points out in a statement that "We're killing 30 [million] to 70 million sharks per year in fisheries -- who's killing who?"
To learn more about how you can help, check out Discovery Channel's video on saving the sharks.
Want to get a head start on Shark Week? Take a look at the Georgia Aquarium's interactive live shark cam. Or just flip through the slideshow below of unusual things sharks have swallowed.