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August 17, 2014 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

A shark is nature’s equivalent of a T-800, programmed with the mentality of a five year old, who’s been told that GTA III is a realistic representation of society.  In other words, sharks are monsters.  And as with all monsters, be they man or beast, people are automatically fascinated by them, specifically their capacity for destruction.

I should correct myself; since spiders are nature’s monsters, sharks are more like the sociopaths of the animal kingdom.  Everything about a shark is designed to kill, that’s it.  A shark’s total and sole purpose is to kill.  I fell like if the choice came between eating and procreating, sharks, and maybe my dog, are the only two creatures that would choose dinner over sex.  I say this because of the way sharks mate.  The male shark inserts his clasper into the female’s cloaca, but because they are underwater and lack hands, to keep themselves entwined the male sinks his teeth into the female causing her a considerable amount of pain.[1]  Sometimes the male will accidently kill the female, mid-coitus, and other times she will bleed so much that the male will come under a blood frenzy and consume the female instead of mating.

Sharks have become such a cultural intrigue, that where once upon a time only one week of the year was geared towards them, August in general has now become Shark Month.  Nat Geo now does a shark week, and Syfy has a new Roger Corman shark flick out every August for the past five years.  Even though the original Shark Week on Discovery channel has been lacking over the past few years, people still continue to watch it, making it an incredibly lucrative venture for Discovery channel.  Although, in recent years Shark Week has come under fire for its notorious practice of greatly embellishing, exaggerating, or even making up facts.  It’s when they present actual facts and undiscovered truths about sharks where Shark Week actually thrives, not when they make up documentaries about 80 year old sharks living off the coast of Florida.

Some things that I actually did learn about sharks this year was that they basically break the world up into two categories: 1) Can I eat this, and 2) Can I not eat this.  In one special, a group of deadbeats shark nerds drop a camera into the water to watch a shark do something, what it was, I don’t know since the shark was literally the only thing in the water.  The shark eventually notices the camera, and goes to inspect it, but instead of nudging against it or sniffing it, as every other apex predator would do, the shark instinctually goes into attack mode and tries to eat the camera.  It stays there with the camera in its jaws for about three minutes before the damn thing realizes that the camera is not a meal, which is way too long for a murder machine to realize that something is not edible.  What I don’t understand is why the shark would even think to try and eat the camera, it wasn’t thrashing about, wasn’t bleeding, and I’m pretty sure even a rock could tell that a camera and a seal look nothing alike.  This leads me to my original theory that sharks simply categorize everything in terms of whether or not they can be eaten.

For all the complaining and fear that sharks breed, at least 60 ft. Megalodons don’t exist anymore.  Unless Shelob or Aragog exist somewhere, Megalodons are probably the most nightmarish creature to have ever existed.  A 60 foot shark, with a 10 ft. jaw diameter, that lived throughout the world’s oceans, eating roughly one ton of food a day-if this creature existed today, humanity would never even want to learn how to swim.  They eventually died out because they were over hunting their prey, not out of gluttony, but because the sheer amount of food that they needed to consume every day to survive was just so astronomical, that it wasn’t sustainable for themselves or the giant whales they preyed on.[2]

Because eating is arguably the most important part of any shark’s life, researchers have discovered that the stomach of some sharks make up 20% of the animal itself.  Unlike snakes, which take about 5 years to digest their meals, sharks can digest their food in about 15 minutes.  In some instances, a shark will attack a group of seals not because it’s hungry, but because it knows it will be hungry again in the near future.  Their concept up time is only defined by the fact that they will need to eat again at a later point in time.  Any way you cut it, it seems like these animals were only created to eat.

Unlike other apex predators like lions, tigers, and orcas, which could be killed and eaten because they offer nutritional value, sharks are one of the unhealthiest animals to eat.  They have too much fat and cartilage, and not enough actual meat.  More importantly, for some unknown reason they have high a mercury content, which is non-lethal to them, but will still probably kill anyone who has too much shark fin soup.

Ironically enough, the shark fin soup business may actually be instrumental to the increasing incidents of near shore shark attacks.  Because most shark fishermen only need the fins of sharks, they just dump the carcass back into the ocean after harvesting the fin.  What scientists believe this does, is warn other sharks to stay away from that area (deep sea) do to the secretion of a “warning” pheromone from the dead shark’s carcass.  If this is true, the other sharks get the message and migrate to safer, shallower waters, away from the danger.

In conjunction with their hunting capabilities, if this “warning pheromone” theory is true, never in recorded history has an animal been so naturally primed for survival and predation.  If humans didn’t decide to savor the taste of dorsal fin, or see sharks as underwater mosquitos, they would have absolutely nothing to fear.  They are unhealthy to eat, have no natural predators, and prey on literally anything from fish, people, and seals, to cars, pool balls, and horseshoes.

Sharks are nature’s most perfect killing machine, that’s why they’ve been around for hundreds of millions of years.  They don’t need any tinkering, and have survived through ice ages, extinction level events, rising and falling sea levels, global warming, and sea floor spreading.  There’s no stopping these killers who are merciless, swift, and unsettlingly efficient.  They’ve been around for 400 million years, and I suspect they’ll be around for 400 million more.


[1] A cloaca is the reptilian, fish, and avian equivalent of not only a vagina, but an asshole as well.  That is to say that sharks reproduce and give birth via the exact same orifice that they shit out of.

[2] Yes, Megalodons ate blue whales, the largest extant species.


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