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Shark Family

From scary movies to beachside signs, sharks have a hair-raising reputation. But are they really as scary as they’re portrayed? The truth is, only 25 species (out of 368 species) attack humans, and only about 100 people each year are attacked by sharks. More people die every year from bee stings, natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes or lightning strikes, volcanoes, and tens of thousands die in car and road accidents. The bull shark is the shark most often responsible for attacks, because it swims in the same shallow waters preferred by swimmers.

A Spined Pygmy Shark Image - Science for Kids All About Sharks
The spined pygmy shark grows only 7 inches long.

Sharks are ancient animals. They’ve been on earth for at least 420 million years. Sharks, unlike most fish, don’t have bones, but cartilage, which is a soft, sinewy substance. They have several rows of teeth and might have as many as 3,000 teeth in their mouths at one time. When one tooth falls out, another one moves forward to replace it.

Some of the most commonly known sharks are:

  • Great White Shark
  • Tiger Shark
  • Bull Shark
  • Mako Shark
  • Hammerhead Shark
  • Sand Shark
  • Basking Shark
  • Whale Shark
  • Blue Shark
A Huge Captured Whale Shark Image
The whale shark can reach over 50 feet long.

Fun Facts About Sharks for Kids

  • It’s hard to see in the murky waters of the deep, but sharks have excellent vision. Their night vision is better than a cat’s or a wolf’s.
  • A shark’s sense of smell is 10,000 times better than a human’s.
  • Sharks can detect electrical impulses, including another animal’s beating heart. That’s a little creepy, isn’t it?
  • Sharks are picky eaters. They often take one bite of something before they decide to go in for the kill. This is why they often swim away after “tasting” a human.
Shark Teeth Image
Sharks have several rows of teeth and might have as many as 3,000 teeth in their mouths at one time.

Shark Vocabulary

  1. Reputation: the image or idea people have of a person, animal or thing
  2. Portray: how someone or something is described
  3. Ancient: old
  4. Substance: material
  5. Murky: dark, cloudy
 A Swimming Bull Shark Image
The bull shark is the shark most often responsible for attacks, because it swims in the same shallow waters preferred by swimmers.

Learn More All About Sharks

Watch this exciting documentary video of the biggest shark that ever lived, Megalodon!

A video documentary about a historical giant shark, Megalodon.

Shark QUESTIONS & ANSWERS for kids

Question 1: How big are sharks?

Answer 1: Sharks can range in size from tiny to as big as a bus. The spined pygmy shark grows only 7 inches long, while the whale shark can reach over 50 feet long. Most sharks are about the same size as a human, or slightly larger.


Question 2: Are all sharks carnivores?

Answer 2: All sharks are meat eaters. Small sharks eat plankton, small animals and shellfish. Large sharks eat fish, sea lions and seals.


Question 3: How many species of shark are there?

Answer 3: For now we know of over 500 different shark types in our waters. New species get discovered every year. Fossils found over time suggest that millions of years ago there may have been over 3000 different shark species, this would have been when water levels where much higher and the climate warmer.


Question 4: How do sharks hear?

Answer 4: Sharks have inner ears, they have very small openings on the side of their heads. Sharks have fantastic hearing, they are tuned into much lower frequencies than us and they can hear movement in the water from miles away.


Question 5: What is the biggest shark?

Answer 5: A whale shark can reach over 20 meters in length making is the largest shark at present.


Question 6: How long can a great white shark live?

Answer 6: Studies to date show that a great white shark can live up to 70 years.


Question 7: What is the fastest shark?

Answer 7: The Shortfin Mako Shark is the fastest of the shark species reaching speed of 60 miles per hour when in pursuit of prey like tuna and other fish.


Question 8: Do sharks Have predators? 

Answer 8: Yes they do and even the great white has. Orca whales also know as killer whales will attack great white sharks. Although it is rare it can happen. Sharks are generally the rulers of the oceans.


Question 9: Do sharks have a good sense of smell?

Answer 9: Sharks have an amazing sense of smell. A shark can smell even a single drop of blood in the water. Just because a shark picks up a sense of blood in the water it doesn’t mean it will go on the hunt. A shark will only eat when hungry.


Question 10: Can a shark drown?

Answer 10: Most sharks can drown, in order not to do so they need to keep moving.


Question 11: Do all shark species attack humans?

Answer 11: No, in fact 97% of the shark species have no interest in us and are completely harmless. Even great white shark attacks are extremely rare.


Question 12: How high can a shark jump?

Answer 12: The Mako and the Great White sharks are known to be great jumpers. The great white can jump up to 3 meters while the Mako shark can jump as high as 9 meters.


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