Everyone loves to know about sharks! For children (and grown-ups) they hold a special fascination. They are the most skilful predators in the ocean and they’ve been around for almost half a billion years. Older even than most teachers!
Some sharks are huge and some sharks are tiny. Some look sleek like torpedoes and some are big, slovenly monsters. With over 500 different types of shark, covering everything from the blacktip reef shark, lemon shark and frilled shark all the way to the great white, there’s no shortage of incredible shark facts for kids. Prepare to be simply amazed by some of these astonishing and fascinating facts about sharks.
A Shark’s Skeleton contains No Bones
One of the best facts about sharks for kids is that you won’t find a single bone in a shark’s skeleton. Do sharks have bones? Not a single one. Instead, the shark skeleton is made from cartilage. If you feel inside your nose or at the top of your ear, the rubbery stuff is cartilage. It’s much more flexible than bone, it’s 50% lighter, it heals more quickly and it helps to keep sharks buoyant in the water so they don’t sink to the bottom!
Sharks have been around for 450 Million Years
Amazingly, sharks appear in the fossil record even before trees existed! They wouldn’t have looked like the sharks we know today – they’d probably have looked more like big eels – and scientists think there may have been many thousands of different shark species. Today there’s a little over 500 and while some are exactly what you’d think a shark would look like, others are strange and bizarre looking sharks that will absolutely amaze you!
Some Sharks are Massive, Some are Tiny
Like many animal species, there are huge differences between the biggest and smallest sharks. One of the coolest shark facts for kids is that the biggest shark in the world is as heavy as 3,000 cats! The whale shark can grow up to 17 metres long and weighs upwards of 15 tonnes while the smallest shark in the world, the dwarf lanternshark, is so small it’s about the same length as a pencil.
Sharks can live for Hundreds of Years
It’s hard to know with absolute certainty but scientists believe that most species of shark live for around 20 – 30 years. The great white lives to about 70 years old and the whale shark can live to the ripe old age of 150. But that’s nothing! The greenland shark has the longest lifespan of any vertebrate and in 2016, scientists studied a group of 28 and estimated that one female could be up to 512 years old! If so, she would have been born when Henry VIII was king! We think this is one of the very best facts about sharks for kids!
The Prize for the World’s Ugliest Shark goes to…
…the goblin shark. OK, so maybe this one is more of an opinion rather than a fact about sharks! For kids (and adults), the goblin shark is a scary looking beast! It’s an ugly, slithering monster that has stayed the same for 125 million years. It lives deep in the open ocean so is hardly ever seen and almost never filmed but we think you’ll agree, it’s not the prettiest shark in the sea!
Great White Shark Facts for Kids
You may have noticed that we haven’t yet mentioned the most famous and deadliest shark of them all, the great white shark. Facts for kids need to be remarkable and we promise, this is one stand-out fish!
The great white can be found in cool, coastal waters all over the world. The biggest great whites can reach up to 7m long (the width of a football goal) and for very short bursts they can swim at the astonishing speed of 35 miles per hour!
They have 300 razor-sharp triangular teeth and they sit at the very top of the food chain. They eat tuna, dolphins, seals, sea lions and whales.
However, contrary to popular belief, they don’t hunt humans to eat them! Scientists think they can mistake us for seals. If they do bite, it’s just out of curiosity. To the great white, we don’t taste very nice!
One of the best great white shark facts for kids is about their unbelievable sense of smell. Out in the ocean they can smell a seal colony from two miles away.
Another astonishing fact about this shark is that if you had 100 litres of water – about as much as you’d have in the bath – and added just one single drop of blood, a great white shark could detect it!
Facts about Sharks for Children: Conclusion
We hope you enjoyed these awesome shark facts for kids! They really are incredible creatures with a history and variety that will astonish even the most imaginative of children! You can keep exploring our Sharks microsite – including loads of information about sharks in the UK – as well as a host of mind-blowing information about these amazing creatures.