Shark Week 2017: What you didn’t know about sharks

Splashing out facts


By Rachel Au

Shark Week 2017: What you didn’t know about sharks

Blame the movies for making people afraid of sharks and feeling less sympathetic of the killing of these predators—for the most part, at least. No one can deny that there have been deaths caused by sharks but some of those happened under certain circumstances. Regardless, there is a point to saving sharks. Shark Week is one television’s longest-running shows and it returns for its 29th instalment today to, once again, splash out compelling insight to the species. 

The 2017 edition is going to be just as thrilling with some of the highlights being Michael Phelps racing against a big white; and Chris Noth narrating Sharks and the City: New York to deliver all-new groundbreaking shark stories incorporating innovative research technology. Before you catch the premiere of a brand new Shark Week, here are some important facts you need to know about these sea creatures.


1. One out of 63 shark species is protected in Malaysia

We borrowed the voices of seven Malaysian personalities to share the importance of sharks and why it’s important to say no to shark fin. To add on top of that, did you know that there are 63 species of sharks found in Malaysian waters but only one—the whale shark—is protected under the Fisheries Act 1985? 

shark week 2017 facts

2. Sharks keep the food web in balance

The ocean is seemingly infinite and in it, many intricate food webs. At the top of these food chains are sharks. Scientists considers them to be “keystone” species whereby removing them would cause the whole structure to collapse and risk the end of the line for many other species. And this, in turn, would affect our supply of fish to consume.

shark week 2017 facts

3. Sharks keep most of the other fish populations healthy 

Predatory sharks usually hunt the sick and weak members of their prey populations while some scavenge the sea floor for dead carcasses to feed on. This helps to prevent the spread of diseases and outbreaks; and strengthens the gene pool of the prey species. How? Well, with only the largest, strongest and healthiest fish left, they’ll reproduce in larger numbers and all of them, in tip-top shape.

shark week 2017 facts

4. Sharks keep the seagrass bed and other vital habitats healthy

To prevent the prey species from overgrazing vital habitats, sharks regulate these creatures’ behaviours by intimidating them. For example, scientists in Hawaii found that tiger sharks had a positive impact on the health of seagrass beds. Turtles usually graze on these seabeds and can be quite greedy if the seagrass is of the best quality. This would result in the habitat completely destroyed. When tiger sharks are in the area, however, turtles would graze over a broader area instead of over-grazing one region. 


Shark Week premieres with two episodes back-to-back on Discovery Channel (Astro Channel 551) on 24 July 2017 @ 9pm and will run until 28 July 2017.


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