Sharks are easily one of the most awe-inspiring marine species, and there's no denying they have some fascinating traits that have earned them this status.
Leopard sharks are the most common sharks in San Francisco Bay and along the California coast. Photo by Aquarium of the Bay
By Mallory Johnson
Published: March, 2017
Sharks are easily one of the most awe-inspiring marine species, and there’s no denying they have some fascinating traits that have earned them this status.
Sharks have been around for over 420 million years, predating even dinosaurs. Throughout that time, they evolved into amazing predators, adapting to changes in their environment and becoming some of the ocean’s top hunters.
One such adaptation is the development of a sixth sense called “electroreception.” Electroreception allows sharks to detect subtle muscular movements in other creatures—like a bluefish tuna’s heartbeat—and gives them an extra advantage when seeking out their next meal. Another adaption is the tiny v-shaped scales called “dermal denticles” that conveniently cover sharks’ skin. Dermal denticles, which are similar to tiny external teeth, create tiny vorticles (whirlpools) in the water around the shark and help reduce drag in the water, increasing their speed and agility underwater.
Did you know that there are multiple species of sharks living right here in San Francisco Bay? Although it’s rare to see these creatures in the Bay’s murky waters, you don’t need to rely on luck because you can see six of these local species in person at Aquarium of the Bay.
Enjoy some quick facts about some of our local species here, and learn even more when you see them up close and personal at Aquarium of the Bay.
Fun Fact: Sevengill sharks are the largest shark species that regularly inhabit the Bay, measuring in at a maximum of 9.8 feet and 236 pounds.
Fun Fact: Female tope sharks can birth up to 52 pups in one litter.
Fun Fact: Swell sharks are named for their ability to expand their stomachs with water and swell up to appear larger than they are. This is a defense mechanism they use when they feel threatened.
Fun Fact: Angel Sharks are ambush predators, meaning that they stay still and wait for their prey to pass by. These sharks can strike within a tenth of a second.
Fun Fact: Leopard sharks are the most common species in San Francisco Bay and along the California coast.
Fun Fact: Females lay spiral egg cases, which they wedge into crevices for safe keeping while waiting for them to hatch.
Learn more about sharks at Aquarium of the Bay, or by visiting www.aquariumofthebay.org.
Mallory Johnson is the Communications Manager at Aquarium of the Bay, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting, restoring and inspiring the conservation of San Francisco Bay and its watershed.
Female tope sharks can birth up to 52 pups in one litter. Photo by Aquarium of the Bay