Amazing Shark Facts for Kids

Shark Facts Kids Need to Know! You’ll be Amazed!

Sharks are one of the most feared species on the planet. Did you know they have been around for 400 million years, even before dinosaurs? They are found in all the oceans worldwide, including some fresh water. These Shark Facts for Kids teach you everything you need to know about sharks.

Amazing Shark Facts for kids

A shark is a species of cartilaginous fish. Sharks live and breathe underwater. There are over 500 species of shark.

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What is a Shark?

A shark is a species of cartilaginous fish. Sharks live and breathe underwater. There are over 500 species of shark.

Shark Habitat

Sharks live in all five oceans: The Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, Indian, and Southern Oceans. Some sharks live in species of shark live in freshwater and can be found in the Mississippi, Amazon river, and other rivers around the world.

Sharks can live in deep water and shallow water habitats.

Shark Appearance

All sharks have heads, eyes, nostrils, mouths, a body, tails, and fins.

Most sharks have long, narrow bodies to help them swim quickly through the water.

A shark’s nose is often referred to as a snout. Most snouts are long and pointy.

Shark Fins

Fins

There are five shark fins: dorsal fin, pectoral fins, pelvic fins, anal fin, and caudal fin.

A shark can have as many as seven fins and a tail.

A shark’s fins are very important for the shark to survive. Shark fins help keep the shark balance in the water. Without fins, sharks would be able to stay upright in the water. If a shark did not have fins, it wouldn’t be able to stay upright in the water. They would roll over and belly up!

Shark fins help the shark change the direction they are swimming in; they also help the shark to slow down.

Dorsal Fins

Probably the most known or popular shark fin is the dorsal fin. Most sharks have two dorsal fins. The 1st dorsal fin is commonly associated with sharks, especially in movies where the fin sticks out of the water. The 1st  dorsal fin is the fin located on the top of a shark’s back.

The dorsal fin stops the shark from swaying side to side while swimming. It helps keep the shark balanced.

The 2nd dorsal fin is located further down the shark’s back and is smaller in size.

Great White Shark
Great White Shark

Pectoral Fins

Sharks have two pectoral fins. The pectoral fins are the large fins located on the sides of the shark near the front of its body. They kind of resemble what would be the shark’s arms.

The job of the pectoral fins is to steer the shark and protect the shark from sinking.

Pelvic Fins

Sharks have two pelvic fins. They are located on the bottom of the shark, close to the tail. The pelvic fins help keep the shark lifted in the water, and they also help prevent the shark from sinking.

Anal Fin

Sharks have one anal fin. The anal fin is located underneath the shark. It comes after the pelvic fins, the closest fin to the tail. The anal fin helps prevent the shark from rolling sideways.

Caudal Fin

The caudal fin is also known as the shark’s tail. The caudal fin helps the shark move forward. Different species of sharks have different sizes and shaped caudal fins.

Shark Skin

Sharks do not have scales like other fish. Sharks’ skin is made up of denticles. The word denticles means “little tooth.” A shark’s denticles feel more like sharp teeth rather than scales. They make the shark’s skin feel like sandpaper. It’s very rough and can scratch human skin. Like a human’s teeth, denticles fall out, and new ones grow in.

Some sharks release a slimy feeling substance from their skin that helps them swim faster.

Vertebrates

Sharks are vertebrates. Vertebrates are living things with a skeleton and a backbone.

Shark skeletons are not made of bone-like humans. They are made out of cartilage.

Cartilage is a tough, rubbery, elastic tissue. Humans also have cartilage in their bodies.

The cartilage lets sharks easily twist and turn in the water. Sharks wouldn’t be able to move that quickly if their skeletons were made out of bone because bone doesn’t allow that type of flexibility.

Hammerhead Shark
Hammerhead Shark

Warm-Blooded VS Cold-Blooded

Most species of sharks are cold-blooded. Cold-blooded means when a species’ body temperature changes depending on its temperature. If it’s cold, they are cold; if it is warm, they are warm.

Warm-blooded species’ bodies can regulate their temperature and make their body heat. Humans are warm-blooded. Great white sharks and Maco sharks are also warm-blooded.

Basking Shark
Basking Shark

Diet

Sharks have razor-sharp teeth, but they much rather eat animals found in the ocean than humans!

Sharks have a stomach that can stretch. Their stretchy stomachs allow them to eat a large amount of food in a short amount of time.

Not all sharks eat the same. Different species of sharks eat other things.

Large hunting sharks like the great white and bull sharks eat large marine animals such as octopuses, squid, seals, and other sharks.

Smaller species of sharks eat smaller animals, such as small fish.

Shark species that are slow swimmers, such as angel sharks or nurse sharks, eat crabs and shellfish.

Sharks like the tiger sharks aren’t picky and have been known to eat anything, even things that aren’t food, such as license plates or tin cans that may be floating in the water.

Most sharks do not eat every day. Without food, they will fill up and go days, even a month.

Hunting

Most shark species are nocturnal, meaning they are more active at night. These sharks will also hunt at night. Some sharks are crepuscular and hunt at dusk.

Sharks can swim silently through the water to sneak up on their prey.

They use their keen senses to track down prey. Sharks can feel the ripples in the water made by animals nearby.

Sharks bump their prey with the end of the nose or snout to check it out. When they decide to attack, some species of shark will shake their prey from side to side to rip it apart.

Some species of shark will give their prey a large bite; then they will swim away and wait until it bleeds to death. After the animal has died, it will come back to eat.

Have you ever heard of the term feeding frenzy? A feeding frenzy is when multiple sharks are attracted to the same food source and rush to eat it at the same time.

Shark Teeth

Teeth

Some species of shark, such as Great Whites, have more than one row of teeth; like human teeth, they fall out. Sometimes, shark teeth wash up onshore.

Some species of shark will go through 30,000 teeth in one lifetime.

Most shark teeth are very sharp. Some sharks can bite their prey in half with their sharp teeth.

Some species of shark do not have sharp teeth but small, flat teeth.

How do sharks breathe underwater?

Sharks need oxygen to survive, just like humans.

They do not breathe oxygen the same way as humans. Sharks use their gills to take in oxygen from the water. Most sharks have 5 gills. Some shark species also have spiracles behind their eyes. Spiracles are breathing hole that is also used to bring in oxygen from the water.

Sharks have a lot of muscles, double the number people have.

About 85% of a shark’s body weight is muscle.

Shark Senses

Some people believe that sharks are blind. This is not true. Sharks have good eyesight and can even see in color.

Some sharks have a third eye. This third eye is called a pineal and is located under the skin in the middle of the forehead. This third eye isn’t good for seeing but can sense daylight.

Sharks have an excellent sense of smell. Some species can sense the smallest drop of blood in the ocean up to three miles away. Sharks use their sense of smell to find prey.

Sharks can also hear. They have very tiny ear-hole behind their eyes. They can listen to sounds from 650ft away.

Sharks can also sense tiny amounts of electricity given off by other animals.

Sharks are intelligent and have large brains. Hammerhead sharks are the smartest species of sharks.

Males VS Females

Which do you think are bigger, females or males? Most female sharks are bigger than male sharks. 

They tend to have longer bodies and weigh a quarter more than males. 

Many female sharks have thicker skin than male sharks. Scientists believe this may be because when a male shark likes a female shark, he will bite her. Female sharks may have thicker skin to protect them from the bite.

Female shark often has babies once every couple of years. 

Baby Sharks

A baby shark is called a pup. Some species of sharks lay eggs, and other species of sharks give birth to baby sharks. Let’s find out more!

Shark Egg Pouch

Laying Eggs

Approximately 100 species of sharks lay eggs. These kinds of sharks are called oviparous sharks. These species include Zebra Sharks, Dogfish Sharks, and Bullhead Sharks.

A mother shark will lay her eggs in a safe place so they can develop and grow into a baby shark.

Sometimes shark egg sacks wash up onshore. The empty sacks are sometimes called mermaid purses. 

The baby shark will continue to grow in the egg sack for 7-10 months. Then it will hatch.

Giving Birth

About 70% of sharks give birth to baby sharks. This species of shark is called a viviparous shark. These sharks include Hammerhead Sharks, Blue Sharks, and Bull Sharks.

Baby sharks can grow inside the mommy shark for 1-2 years, depending on the species.

Some species of shark give birth to one baby shark or pup at a time. 

Other species, such as Sand Sharks and Tiger Sharks, give birth to two sharks.

It doesn’t stop at two baby sharks. Certain species of sharks give birth to a lot of babies. Blue Sharks can give birth to up to 135 baby sharks, and Whale Sharks can give birth to 300 baby sharks at once!  

The Life of a Shark

A baby shark or pup has a complete set of teeth when born.  

Once they are born, baby sharks are usually on their own. Most species do not stay with their mothers.

It takes 20 years for a shark to become an adult.

Sharks can live for a long time. Some species of sharks will live 25-30 years. Other species, such as a Whale Shark or Dogfish Shark, can live 100 years!

So, how can a scientist tell how long a shark lived? Have you heard of people counting the rings of a tree trunk to tell how old the tree is? Scientists have a similar test for seeing how old a shark is. Scientists will count the growth rings located on the shark’s spine to tell how old he/she is/

Fun Facts about Sharks

  1. The largest shark to ever exist is the megalodon. Megalodons are now extinct.
  2. Whale Sharks are the largest living shark species, followed by basking sharks and megamouth sharks.
  3. Shortfin mako are the fastest shark. They can swim 40-45 miles per hour. The Great White Shark can reach speeds of 25-35 miles per hour.
  4. The slow-swimming sharks include nurse sharks, angel sharks, and carpet sharks.
  5. Sharks swim great distances. Sharks are migrating species meaning they move from place to place, usually from season to season.
  6. Blue sharks make the longest migrations. They can swim as far as 9,000 miles in just one year.
  7. Ever heard of a shark’s superpower? They possess a special sense called electroreception, allowing them to detect electrical signals from other creatures. It’s like having a built-in radar system!