By Michael Northrop
I’ve always been fascinated by sharks and have been a devoted viewer of Shark Week since it first aired in 1987, but even I was surprised by some of the things I discovered when I waded into the research for my latest book.
- Sharks are nature’s true smelling machines. Unlike bloodhounds and the owners of the world’s other notable noses, sharks don’t breathe through their nostrils. They use them for only one thing: finding food (and, okay, the occasional mate).
- Sharks’ senses are all sharp, but the one they use up close is a sort of underwater spider-sense. They can detect even the tiniest electrical charges in the water, as small as five one-billionths of a volt. If a fish swims by, the shark can sense its bioelectric field, each flick of its tail and beat of its heart.
- In the book, Davey stays afloat with the help of a discarded water cooler bottle. About ten million tons of plastic make their way into the ocean each year. And, fictional flotation devices aside, they serve absolutely no purpose other than pollution.
- The cool stripes that give tiger sharks their name fade out as they reach adulthood. As with humans, it’s the young ones that have all the style!
- While sharks get all the attention, riptides are the real killers at the beach. Over the past ten years, rip currents have killed an estimated one hundred people annually in the US alone. That’s more than floods, tornadoes, lightning, or hurricanes. Sharks are responsible for about one fatality every two years, fewer than fireworks, roller coasters, or falling vending machines.