Category Archives: Sharks

Is a Whale Shark a Shark?

whale shark

Whale sharks look quite different to how we imagine a shark to look. They are enormous, reaching 12 meters or more in length and weighing as much as 16 tons – basically, they are about the size of a bus! And they don’t have sharp teeth, in fact their teeth don’t really assist in feeding at all. So, it’s no surprise that people often ask us the question…is a whale shark a shark?

Are Whale Sharks Really Sharks?

The answer is yes, whale sharks really are sharks. They have all the 33 characteristics of a shark, such as a cartilage skeleton, five pairs of gills and unfused pectoral fins to the head. Unlike whales, they are not mammals and their young are not fed by the mother’s milk. Like sharks, whale sharks are fish. In fact they are the largest fish in the ocean. So, whale sharks really are sharks…and they get their name from the fact that they are enormous!

What Do Whale Sharks Eat? 

Whale sharks have rows of over 300 tiny teeth, but as filter feeders they do not use these teeth to eat. Instead, whale sharks (and other filter feeding sharks) swim along the ocean’s currents with their huge mouths open wide, filtering large quantities of water as they go and extracting tiny organisms called plankton & krill from the water. A whale shark’s mouth is about 1.5 meters wide, so it’s an impressive sight!

The 3 largest sharks include (in size order)

  1. Whale Shark 17 meters
  2. Basking Shark 15 m
  3. Megamouth Shark 7-8 m

All filter feeders!

Diet: Plankton (tiny organisms), krill and small fish

Ten Amazing Whale Shark Facts

  1. Largest fish and shark in the world
  2. Habitat: warm open waters of the tropical oceans 
  3. Whale sharks spend most of their time near the surface
  4. Lifespan: 70 to 100 years
  5. Average length of an adult: 9.7 meters
  6. Average weight: 9 tonnes
  7. Teeth: over 300 rows of tiny teeth – not used for eating!
  8. Whale sharks are solitary creatures
  9. Filter feeders – feeding mainly on plankton
  10. Able to process over 6,000 litres of water each hour

Why We Need Sharks

Learn more about sharks? 

online shark course

Check out our Amazing Sharks Online Shark Course

Check out our Shark Resources

 

 

Further reading…

Save Our Seas – Whale Sharks Down Under

 

Should We Protect Sharks?

 

Amazing sharks

We think so! We hear so many negative stories about sharks in the media but what role do they actually play in the ocean and why are they important to us?

The fact is that sharks are a crucial part of the food chain and help keep the oceans, planet (and us), healthy… and their numbers are dwindling fast.

Read on to discover why we need sharks and why we need to take action to protect these misunderstood creatures…

Sharks Get a Bad Press 

shark cullMany people fear sharks because of sensationalised stories in the media and scary films like Jaws.

The fact is that 100 million sharks are killed by humans each year and sharks kill around 12 humans a year.

So, maybe sharks should be scared of us, not the other way around?

Learn the Facts About Sharks

 

why we need sharks

 

We need to take time to learn the facts about sharks and why they are so important to us and our world, so that we can help protect them. So, we have developed a range of FREE shark resources and an online Amazing Sharks Course aimed at dispelling the myths and promoting the facts about these misunderstood creatures.

 

 

Here are some REAL FACTS about Sharks…

 

Sharks Help Create a Healthy Ecosystem

shark ecosystemSharks are APEX predators, which means they sit at the top of the food chain and help control the numbers of animals below them in that food chain. By controlling populations of large and mid-sized predators, sharks allow smaller fish to thrive, which has a knock on effect on the food chain below them. Therefore, sharks help create a healthy ecosystem with a diverse range of species and competitors.

 

 

Sharks Are a Keystone Species

Apex predators like sharks are known as keystone species. This means that they are crucially important. If you take sharks out of the food chain, the whole structure could collapse.

Sharks & Natural Selection

sharks & natural selection

Sharks play an important role in natural selection because they prey on and remove weak and sick animals. This reduces the chances of them reproducing and helps keep fish populations healthy and strong.

 

 

Sharks & Habitat Loss

reef sharkSharks help prevent habitat loss. Habitats like coral reef depend on their fishy caretakers, like the little reef fish that live on them and clean and protect them from disease. Without sharks controlling numbers of big fish in a marine ecosystem, the numbers of these fish could explode. They would in turn kill off the smaller fish. If that happens, the reef would become diseased and die off, affecting millions of animals that depend on it for survival.

 

 

Everything On Earth is Connected

blue planet earthThe earth’s ocean produces 70 % of the oxygen we breath, food to eat, controls the climate, breaks down pollution, provides us with medicine and much, much more.

Humans are part of our amazing planet’s ecosystem. So, it is in our best interest to protect our home environment and everything within it…including sharks.

 

Want to Know more?

Watch our video: Why We Need Sharks

Read Our Blog: How to Engage Kids with Sharks

 

How You Can Help Protect Sharks

Check out Ocean Life Education’s other blogs:

How to Inspire Kids to Protect the Ocean

Reasons Why We Depend on Our Oceans

How Can I Protect the Ocean

 

shark cullCheck out the latest film ‘Shark Cull’ for some interesting views about shark safety programs off Australia’s East Coast 

 

 

 

 

Engage Kids with Sharks

online sharks course

Most children (and adults!) are naturally fascinated by sharks, either through sheer awe and wonder or by misguided fear. So, it’s no surprise that we can engage kids with sharks to learn a whole range of curriculum topics, without them even realising!

Ocean Life Education has developed a range of FREE online shark teaching resources and an online shark course to provide kids, schools and teachers with engaging ways to learn about sharks.

Why Are Kids Fascinated by Sharks?

shark anatomy and adaptation

shark anatomy – amazing sharks online course

Unfortunately, kid’s interest in sharks is often fuelled by exaggerated media stories and scary films, but it’s sharks’ appearance, immense power and ability to hunt that really grab their attention.

Incredibly, sharks have been around for at least 450 million years (since before the dinosaurs). A major reason why sharks have outlasted so many other animals, and a key reason why we are so fascinated by sharks, is their incredible anatomy, which is adapted to hunt and to survive.

 

 

Teaching Kids About Sharks Helps Protect Sharks and The Ocean

sharks & natural selection

sharks & natural selection

As APEX predators, sharks sit at the top of the food chain and help control the numbers of animals below them in the food web, thus maintaining the balance of life in their marine habitat. By controlling populations of large and mid-sized predators, sharks allow smaller fish to thrive, ensuring healthy ecosystems with a diverse range of species and competitors. Take sharks out of the food chain and the whole structure could collapse.

As we depend on healthy oceans for around 70% of the air that we breath, as well as for a host of other things such as food to eat, it is in our interest to minimise human impact and protect animals that protect our ocean.

 

Curriculum Themes and Sharks

Through the fascinating topic of sharks, kids can learn a host of curriculum themes such as adaptation, habitats, human impact, food webs, natural selection and classification. Studying the curriculum, while being thoroughly engrossed in the subject matter, makes the process of learning all the more enjoyable and inspiring.

Learning Enrichment and Sharks

Often children who need extra support within learning enrichment respond really well to curriculum-based learning which is based around their own topic of interest. That’s where teaching ‘Sharks’ can be a really useful tool to stimulate interest and hook children in.

 

Sharks Course for Kids & Shark Teaching Resources 

 

Ocean Life Education has created a host of engaging FREE shark teaching resources and activities: videos, sharks factAmazing sharks sheets & infographics, shark worksheets, shark activities, shark quizzes and an online shark course for kids (and adults!), with the aim of promoting understanding of sharks. All can be used as engaging shark teaching resources for educators, as well as fun shark activities for kids.

Online Sharks Course for Kids

Amazing Sharks Certificate

Amazing Sharks Certificate

Become a Shark Legend with Ocean Life Education’s Amazing Sharks online course – learn the facts, bust the myths and help protect these totally awesome creatures through a fun and interactive online shark course. Personalised shark legend achievement certificate awarded on completion. Suits Age 7+.

We hope you enjoy our resources and course and are inspired to want to protect amazing sharks too.

Want to know more?

Link – ONLINE SHARKS COURSE

Link – SHARK RESOURCES

Blog – Should We Protect Sharks?

5 Awesome Shark Facts

  • Sharks have been around since before the dinosaurs.
  • Sharks are literally built to hunt.
  • Sharks can produce 30,000 teeth in a lifetime.
  • Humans depend on sharks.
  • You have more chance of being killed by a cow than a shark!

5 Easy Ways to Help Protect Sharks

How to Inspire Students to Protect the Ocean in 2021

 

As environmental concerns gain increasing attention in the media, it is our responsibility to engage and educate children to ensure that they understand why the ocean is so important to us all and to inspire them to want to protect it. In the words of oceans’ pioneer Jacques Cousteau, “People protect what they love”.

So, here’s our pick of the key ocean events that we think will inspire students of all ages to want to protect the ocean in 2021.

 

SeaWeek Australia: 6 – 14 March 2021

2021 theme: The Ocean and Humans are Inextricably Interconnected

SeaWeek Australia is an annual major public awareness campaign which aims to educate and encourage appreciation of the sea. SeaWeek is a great opportunity to increase focus on the deeply woven relationship we have with the ocean and how our survival is underpinned by the health of our oceans.

Involve your school:          www.aaee.org.au/events/seaweek

More info:          www.oceanlifeeducation.com.au/celebrate-seaweek-australia/

 

World Oceans Day: 8 June 2021

2021 theme: The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods

World Oceans Day 2021 is on a mission to deepen understanding of our relationship with the ocean and inspire action to protect it. This year the focus is on how the ocean is our life-source and supports humanity and every other organism on Earth. The focus is on key issues such as plastic pollution, rising water temperatures, overfishing, sewage dumps and other factors impacting the ocean’s ability to thrive as it should.

Involve your school:          worldoceanday.school

 

 World Whale Day: 20 February 2021

World Whale Day began in 1980 in Maui, Hawaii. It’s all about reminding us of the challenges whales face oceans across the globe. Observed annually on the third Sunday in February, World Whale Day celebrates everything about whales.

Involve your school:          www.wilderness.org.au/happy-world-whale-day

 

More info: https://www.oceanlifeeducation.com.au/annual-humpback-whale-migration-east-coast-australia/

 

World Sea Turtle Day: 16 June 2021

World Sea Turtle Day is celebrated on 16 June annually as it is the birthday of Dr. Archie Carr, the so-called “father of sea turtle biology.”  His research highlighted the plight of sea turtles and drove community support to protect them and celebrate them annually on World Sea Turtle Day.

 

 

Involve your school:          conserveturtles.org/june-16th-is-world-sea-turtle-day/

 

Shark Awareness Day: 14 July 2021

Sharks get a huge amount of bad press, yet on average one person is killed by a shark in Australia each year and heaps more are killed by horses and cows!! Without sharks in Australian waters, many ecosystems would not be sustainable, and we would be denied the pleasure of exploring amazing underwater habitats such as the world’s largest natural wonder, Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef. The impact on tourism and economies would be huge. Shark Awareness Day aims to separate fact from myth and promote a positive image for these amazing creatures.

Involve your school:          www.sharktrust.org/blog/shark-awareness-day

More info: https://www.oceanlifeeducation.com.au/ultimate-sharks-facts/

 

Check out our Annual Events Calendar for even more great reasons to celebrate the ocean in 2021.

 

 

Lock in the Dates!

Remember to lock in the dates and get planning so you can make the most of these ocean celebrations at your school. Little ripples make big waves!

Bring Learning to Life With A Live Marine Animal Program

Why not book in an Ocean Life Education program to compliment your teaching and bring it all to life. All programs are delivered by qualified Marine Educators with a passion for the ocean. They provide a lively, fun, and interactive experience with our live marine animals and are designed to educate and inspire schools and community to protect our precious marine environment.