Show Me Your Teeth!

In honor of Discovery Channel’s, ‘Shark Week,’ I thought I’d post some great trivia and some lil’ facts about Sharks.  Kudos, first of all, to whomever thought it would be good to license Lady GaGa’s “Show me your teeth” for the theme of this year’s ‘Shark Week.’  Cute, and their montage of sharks on the screen is much more interesting than the actual music video. The link above is just to listen to the music w/ lyrics, that’s how disappointed I am with her video for that song.

Enough about Lady GaGa, lets start by showing some teeth; guess the shark that belongs to the chompers pictured below.

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Facts from sites as listed (because Wiki doesn’t know everything).

1. Great White Shark (Carcharodon Carcharias):  Average length 15-20 ft and approximately 5,000 lbs. Listed as endangered some migrate while others stay relatively stationary in cooler waters ranging  from the end of South Africa and South America and as far North as Nova Scotia and British Columbia. Predatory habits vary depending on their geographic locations. (National Geographic)

2. Seven Gill Shark (Notorynchus Cepedianus): Average length 7-8 ft and not more than 1,000 lbs. Typically found in the central eastern pacific they can be found seasonally in shallow waters, but prefer deeper depths in all the world’s oceans. The Seven Gill shark is special in that it is considered one of the most ancient living species as it is the only living current shark with seven gills, other species have 5 or 6 gills. (www.pelagic.org)

3. Mako Shark (Isurus Oxyrinchus): Average length 7-8 ft and 1,100 lbs. There is a short fin and long-fin Mako. They have been found to travel up to 2,000 miles in a month, found in warm to temperate waters from Oregon to Chile. Categorized as a Threatened species due to being a prized game fish and also used in recipes of shark-fin soup. (http://marinebio.org)

4. Bull Shark (Carcharhinus Leucus): Average length 7-11.5 ft and 200-500 lbs. One of the few sharks that are also found in fresh water and have been found up the Amazon River and in lakes of Nicaragua. In places where it has been tradition to release the dead into the rivers the Bull Shark has become customized to a certain standard of living making it dangerous for people to wade into the waters.  (National Geographic)

5. Hammerhead Shark (Sphyma): Average length 13-20 ft, weighing 500-1000 lbs. Their oddly shaped heads spread out their visual and other sensory mechanisms to make them better predators and some even use them when hunting sting rays be pinning them to ocean floor. One of the few species that mass together for migrations during the summer they are found in oceans world wide from temperate to tropical waters. (National Geographic)

6. Whale Shark (Rhincodon Typus): Average length 18-32 ft and weighing 20 tons. They prey on, happily for us, plankton using a filtration system in their mouths. They enjoy warmer waters in the tropics. They are considered a vulnerable fish as hunting for them still occurs in the Philippines and some parts of Asia. (National Geographic).

7. Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus Melanopterus): Averages 6.5 ft and weighing 52 lbs. They frequent coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific and the young are found in extremely shallow waters even along the shores. They have been documented feeding in small groups to herd fish against reefs or shallow waters. They are at risk of becoming vulnerable due to fishing, both with nets and spears as their used for shark-fin soup as well as for filets and other delicacies and their liver for oils. (Marine Bio)

8. Sand Tiger Shark (Carcharias Taurus): Average length 6.5-10 ft, weighing 200-300 lbs they troll the shores of most continental waters except those of Pacific waters along the North and South America. It’s the only shark known to gulp air which it keeps in its stomach and allows it to lay motionless on the ocean floor to attack its prey. The shark is easily affected by pollution and is considered a vulnerable species. (National Geographic)

9. Thresher Shark (Alopias Vulpinus): Average length varies from 10-18 ft and weighing 600-700 lbs . They are seasonally migratory, but stay along the continent and prefer temperate to tropical waters and prefer to swim along the surface. They are easily identifiable by their long upper lobe of their tail fin which can easily be 50% of the total length of the fish. The Thresher is experiencing difficulties due to being over-fished in some waters, but is not listed at this time. (Marine Bio)

10. Leopard Shark (Triakis Semifasciata): Average length 4-7 ft, weighing approximately 40 lbs. They are common to the kelp forests from Oregon to Mexico and prevalent in California. They are considered a game fish due to their tender tasty meat and several tons are brought into California fisheries. They could become vulnerable to over-fishing if areas do not adopt size limits as Leopard sharks take about a decade to mature. (http://www.montereybayaquarium.org)

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Back to Basics, some Shark Facts for beginners (SharkFacts and Discovery.com):

  • Sharks can ‘hear’ a fish in distress over a mile a way that’s more than two foot ball fields.
  • They also have what is called ‘ampullae of Lorenzini’ which sense electricity and allow them to track the heartbeat of the distressed fish.
  • Their hearing is also for frequencies much lower than our own, a shark’s typical range is 10-800 hertz and are especially responsive to 375 hertz. For example 10 hertz is about 1.5 octaves below the lowest note on a piano.
  • Sharks can smell a drop of blood within a million drops of water or, in a slightly less scientific way, say a teaspoon of blood in an Olympic sized swimming pool and can smell blood hundreds of meters away.
  • Before sandpaper was developed shark skin was used to sand wood due to the rough dermal denticles.
  • You are more likely to drown in the ocean then to be killed by a shark, of the 100 or so people bitten by sharks each year only 5-10 die.
  • The bite of a shark produces 40,000 lbs / sq inch of pressure which is certainly enough to bite through bone and flesh.
  • While it is true that most species of shark have to keep swimming to breathe, some species do not. Buccal pumping is what fish due to pump water through their mouths and across their gills; nurse sharks, angel sharks, carpet (wobbegongs) sharks and rays and skates (shark cousins) breath this way.
  • The Cave of Sleeping Sharks is located off the coast of Mexico and has a high concentration of oxygen and low levels of salt which allow the reef sharks in the area to ‘rest’ with out having to keep swimming.
  • For many years it was believed sharks were impervious to cancer tumors, but recent studies have found tumors in the cartilage of sharks.
  • There are three types of Shark reproduction. Viviparity, eggs hatch inside the female and the pups establish an umbilical cord and placenta. Oviparity, more commonly referred to as “mermaid’s purses” these leathery pouches are laid along the ocean floor. Aplacental Viviparity (Ovoviviparous), as in Viviparity the pups are born inside the female, but there is no placenta or umbilical cord so pups will eat unhatched eggs and each other for nourishment inside the womb.

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JAWS quick factoids.

I encourage anyone who has not seen this movie to watch it, it’s a classic at this point, watch it with the lights off and be a sport about it. I also advise you to borrow the extended/director’s cut with all the extras because that is where you’ll find a lot of the below information and frankly it’s a lot more interesting hearing Steven Spielberg and cast discuss the antics of filming and their impressions of making the movie then I can convey in this snippet here.

From IMDb dosed with my own memories of the Extended Edition DVD:

  • The movie was shot primarily in and around the beaches and shores of Martha’s Vineyard. The reason for this was due to the favorable depth of the waters around Martha’s Vineyard, 12 miles out to sea and the waters were still only 30 feet deep, given the production crew room to work the mechanical shark.
  • The mechanical shark was named “Bruce” after Steven Spielberg’s lawyer, when they went to the effects shop to visit the creation of the shark they accidentally trapped George Lucus’ head in the mouth.
  • Three mechanical “Bruces” were made, each with specialized functions. One shark was open on the right side, one was open on the left side, and the third was fully skinned. Each shark cost approximately $250,000.
  • In the scene where police chief Brody’s son, Michael, is boating in the shallow water of the pond the film originally had the man rowing the dingy pushing Michael out-of-the-way and being attacked by the shark, but Spielberg thought this would be too gruesome. (However, it explains why Michael goes into shock and has to stay the night in the hospital).
  • The Character of Chief Brody was originally considered for Charlton Heston and also offered to Robert Duvall before settling on Roy Scheider, Sterling Hayden and Lee Marvin for the role of Quint before choosing Robert Shaw, and Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Jon Voight, and Jan-Michael Vincent all for the role of Hooper before Richard Dreyfuss got the part (back, since he originally rejected it).
  • Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws (you knew it was a book right?), makes a cameo in the movie as the reporter in Amity on the 4th of July weekend.
  • Did you know that JAWS is based on a real life attack and is mentioned by Hooper in the movie? In the actual Jersey Beach shark attacks of 1916, the sequence of attacks is similar to that of the film: a swimmer in the surf; a dog; a boy; and the leg of a man in a tidal slough.
  • Quint’s tale about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis was conceived by playwright Howard Sackler, retooled by John Milius and when a disagreement came up between Peter Benchley (who also acted as a screenwriter) and Carl Gottlieb another screenwriter Robert Shaw (Quint) presented his version and they both agreed it was what the movie needed.
  • The mechanical failure of “Bruce” that occurred due to the salty water and generally untried technology probably saved the film, it caused Spielberg to start filming ‘something’ and he had to get creative with an implied threat; leading him to position the camera from the shark’s point of view and why for nearly 50% of the movie you don’t see much of the shark. Overall creating a much more thrilling movie of the unknown.
  • An accident during filming caused the ‘Orca’ (Quint’s boat) to begin sinking. Steven Spielberg began screaming over a bullhorn for the nearby safety boats to rescue the actors. John R. Carter, already up to his knees in water on the sinking Orca, held his Nagra (tape recorder) up over his head and screamed, “F**k the actors, save the sound department!” During the accident, the film camera was submerged, so its film, still submerged in sea water, was flown to a New York film lab where technicians were able to save the film. The accident is described starting at 01:30:07 in “The Making of Jaws” on the 30th Anniversary edition DVD.
  • Roy Scheider stated in an interview that in the scene where Lee Fierro (Mrs. Kintner) smacks him in the face, she was actually hitting him. Apparently, the actress could not fake a slap and so the multiple takes were some of the “most painful” of his (Scheider’s) acting career.
  • According to writer Carl Gottlieb, the line “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” was not scripted but improvised by Roy Scheider.
  • Composer John Williams conducted the orchestra during the 1976 Academy Awards, so when it was announced that he won the Oscar for Best Score (click to listen), he had to run up to the podium to accept his Oscar and then run back to continue conducting the orchestra.
  • JAWS was released in the summer of 1975 and became the first ‘summer blockbuster’ after 67 million people went to watch it.
  • When Universal saw the finished film and were more than happy with the result, they began an advertising campaign on television costing an unprecedented $700,000.
  • The film was simultaneously shown in 490 theaters on its opening weekend, the first time for Hollywood, setting the standard for subsequent films. The film was originally booked in about 1000 theaters, but MCA executive Lew Wasserman wanted that cut back, saying he wanted lines at the box office.
  • This was the first movie to reach the coveted $100 million mark in “theatrical rentals”, which is about 45% of the “box office gross”. It was the highest-grossing of all-time in the U.S. until Star Wars.
  • This was voted the sixth scariest film of all time by ‘Entertainment Weekly’.
  • However, Peter Benchley has said if he had known then what he knows now about sharks he never would have written the book (referring to making them feared and hated when they so rarely attack people) and the producers of the movie have said if they had read the book more than once they never would have made the movie (referring to anticipating the amount of trouble filming on the water would have been).

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Now, go swim, it’s perfectly safe to get back in the water.

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