It's Sharktober! A whole month in celebration of our favourite toothy friends - sharks! These magnificent animals are often portrayed as vicious hunters, scary stalkers or single-minded predators in the media, but what really makes these misunderstood animals tick? Stick with us on social media and our blog throughout October as we take a Sharktober dive into answering all your sharkiest questions. How smart are sharks? Can they swim backwards? Are there really 117 kinds of South African shark? Let's find out together!

The Two Oceans Aquarium is doubly excited about Sharktober - not only do we get to promote one of our favourite animal families, but we also get to welcome our new partner in conservation awareness, the Save Our Seas Foundation! Together, we hope to promote education and conservation around these often endangered sea animals, and we can think of no better way of launching Sharktober than by announcing that we've officially renamed our largest exhibit, the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Exhibit, in honour of this new partnership.

This is the Sharktober landing page and will be regularly updated throughout the month. For realtime updates, please follow Sharktober on Facebook. Get started here:

Shark showcase:

Pyjama catshark

The striped pyjama shark may be the "villain" of the critically acclaimed My Octopus Teacher, but there is more to these little catsharks than meets the eye. Let's take a look at what life is like for a catshark that doesn't get much bigger than two housecats.

Original photo by Guido Zsilavecz [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Spotted ragged-tooth shark

When you visit the Two Oceans Aquarium, one species always stands out as a highlight. Take a closer look at the ragged-tooth shark - some of South Africa's most iconic marine species.

Original photo by Steve Benjamin

Zambezi/Bull shark

Known for their ability to survive freshwater, and fro having the strongest bite force of any shark, Zambezi sharks equip their young with some of the best evolutionary advantages of any shark species. However, their reliance on freshwater ecosystems puts them at unique risks of habitat destruction and pollution, and they are listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.

Original photo by Justin Blake

Scalloped hammerhead shark

The scalloped hammerhead is the most widely distributed and common of the nine known species of hammerhead shark, but despite this it is, in fact, Critically Endangered. Scalloped hammerheads are one of the few species of shark that forms schools. Sometimes hundreds of these sharks gather to hunt, with smaller, younger sharks hunting free-swimming fishes near the surface, and larger adults schooling deeper where they can see prey on the seafloor. Large hammerheads are able to use their wide heads to pin bigger prey animals, particularly rays or small sharks, to the seafloor, but their mouths are too small for smaller hammerheads to effectively hunt these large prey.

Original photo by David Clode

Broadnose sevengill shark

As you may have guessed from its name, the broadnose sevengill shark has seven pairs of gills - most sharks only have five! They also only have one dorsal fin - most sharks have two on their backs. Overall, sevengill sharks are magnificent oddities.

Original photo by Morne Hardenberg

Shortfin mako shark

Shortfin mako sharks are found throughout South Africa's offshore waters. They are known for being the fastest swimming shark species in the world, able to approach 100km/h in short bursts, and use a combination of excellent vision and metallic blue countershading camouflage to ambush dangerous prey, such as swordfish and other large sharks. Due to pressure from targeted commercial and sport fishing, as well as the pelagic longline fishing industry's bycatch, shorfin mako sharks are Endangered.

Original photo by Chris Fallows

Watch this space for more amazing South African sharks!

Shark facts:

How do sharks smell?

The rumour-mill has it that sharks can smell a drop of blood in the water from kilometres away. Is this true? Let's investigate just how sensitive and important a shark's sense of smell really is.

Do sharks drown if they stop swimming?

There's a common notion that sharks need to swim continuously or they will drown. This myth has certainly become an overused trope when it comes to motivational quotes, but is there any truth to it? Can a shark actually drown if it stops swimming? Let’s investigate!

Credit: Elias Levy [CC BY 2.0]

How many types of shark does South Africa have?

South Africa is home to 117 known species of shark - more than a quarter of the world's shark species. You might think that you'd recognise most of them, but trust us, the list is longer and stranger than you think!

The frilled shark is definitely one of South Africa's most unusual shark species. Credit: Citron / CC BY-SA 3.0

What were prehistoric sharks like?

Sharks are among Earth's most ancient creatures. First evolving over 455 million years ago, sharks are far more ancient than the first dinosaurs, insects, mammals or even trees. Here are our top 10 prehistoric shark ancestors.

Credit: Danielle Dufault [CC BY 2.5]

Watch this space for more amazing shark facts.

Want to meet and experience sharks for yourself? Here are a few interesting things you can see in our Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Exhibit.

blog comments powered by Disqus