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Sharks

Sharks in 360

    Sharks form a vital part of the ecosystem, and to really understand their importance, you have to look at the ecosystem. Sharks are the apex predator, so they manage the food chain from the top down, preventing certain organisms from over-populating and having an adverse effect on the ecosystem. Learn about the coral reef ecosystem and how sharks play an important role in managing this habitat by watching our 360 degree video above. To watch, simply turn your phone sideways, play the video and move around to explore the coral reef.

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“I’ll take a splash of lemon with my water”

     When diving in the water with lemon sharks for the first time, I felt the cool splash of salt water hit my face as I eagerly dove into the blue ocean. Next, a six foot lemon shark rammed its rostrum into my chest as soon as my head slipped below the waves. This reaction wasn’t a result of some predatory response, or out of fear, rather, curiosity.

 

     Lemon sharks are a vulnerable species that can grow up to 11 feet long and are primarily found in warm tropical waters of the Western Atlantic Ocean. These predators primarily hunt at night and feed on fish and crustaceans. Sharks have many ways of finding and catching prey, but one of the coolest methods is the use of their sixth sense. With jelly-like pores on their face, sharks can detect electro and magnetic waves in the water. The kind of waves we give off when we move our muscles. This allows sharks to detect an injured fish that might make an easy meal. This also helps sharks hunt at night and find animals camouflaged under sand or among plants. They also have a great sense of smell and decent eyes.

 

     Sharks have incredibly cool skin that resembles chain mail and feels just like sandpaper. This is because their skin is made of tiny tooth-like scales that protect the animal from abrasion and prevents organisms from growing on them. 

 

     This shark species is the target of commercial and recreational fishing and is dependent upon healthy mangrove habitat to survive. We clearly need sharks more than they need us and they are the key to healthy fisheries. 

 

     To get these images, I had to snorkel with several lemon sharks at the surface of the open ocean. These animals heard the noise of the boat and came to investigate what the commotion was about. I spent nearly 4 hours in the water with these sharks in a single day, yet was eager to get back in and spend more time with them. They were curious, and it was evident that each individual had different personalities as each would show different behaviors. 

Photographer: Justin Grubb

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