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Portal:Sharks

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Grey reef shark
(Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos)

Sharks are a group of elasmobranch fish characterized by a cartilaginous skeleton, five to seven gill slits on the sides of the head, and pectoral fins that are not fused to the head. Modern sharks are classified within the clade Selachimorpha (or Selachii) and are the sister group to the rays. However, the term "shark" has also been used for extinct members of the subclass Elasmobranchii outside the Selachimorpha, such as Cladoselache and Xenacanthus, as well as other Chondrichthyes such as the holocephalid eugenedontidans.

Under this broader definition, the earliest known sharks date back to more than 420 million years ago. Acanthodians are often referred to as "spiny sharks"; though they are not part of Chondrichthyes proper, they are a paraphyletic assemblage leading to cartilaginous fish as a whole. Since then, sharks have diversified into over 500 species. They range in size from the small dwarf lanternshark (Etmopterus perryi), a deep sea species of only 17 centimetres (6.7 in) in length, to the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), the largest fish in the world, which reaches approximately 12 metres (40 ft) in length. Sharks are found in all seas and are common to depths of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). They generally do not live in freshwater although there are a few known exceptions, such as the bull shark and the river shark, which can survive and be found in both seawater and freshwater. Sharks have a covering of dermal denticles that protects their skin from damage and parasites in addition to improving their fluid dynamics. They have numerous sets of replaceable teeth.

Well-known species such as the great white shark, tiger shark, blue shark, mako shark, thresher shark, and hammerhead shark are apex predators—organisms at the top of their underwater food chain. Many shark populations are threatened by human activities.

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A wild Galapagos shark
The Galapagos shark, Carcharhinus galapagensis, is a species of requiem shark, family Carcharhinidae, found worldwide. This species favors clear reef environments around oceanic islands, where it is often the most abundant shark species. A large species that grows to 3.7 m (12 ft), the Galapagos reef shark has a typical fusiform "reef shark" shape and is very difficult to distinguish from the dusky shark (C. obscurus) and the grey reef shark (C. amblyrhynchos). An identifying character of this species is its tall first dorsal fin, which has a slightly rounded tip and originates over the rear tips of the pectoral fins.

Galapagos sharks are active predators often encountered in large groups. They feed mainly on bottom-dwelling bony fishes and cephalopods; larger individuals have a much more varied diet, consuming other sharks, marine iguanas, sea lions, and even garbage. As in other requiem sharks, reproduction is viviparous, with females bearing litters of 4–16 pups every 2–3 years. The juveniles tend to remain in shallow water to avoid predation by the adults. Galapagos sharks are bold and have behaved aggressively towards humans, and are thus regarded as dangerous. The World Conservation Union has assessed this species as Near Threatened, as it has a slow reproductive rate and there is heavy fishing pressure across its range.

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Male whale shark at Georgia Aquarium.jpg
Credit: Zac Wolf
The whale shark is a slow moving filter feeding shark that is the largest living fish species. Four male and two female whale sharks are held in the Georgia Aquarium.

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Shark · Outline of sharks

Shark orders
Carcharhiniformes (groundsharks) · Cladoselachiformes (extinct) · Eugeneodontida (extinct) · Heterodontiformes (bullhead sharks) · Hexanchiformes (most primitive sharks) · Hybodontiformes (extinct) · Iniopterygia (extinct) · Lamniformes (mackerel sharks) · Orectolobiformes (carpet sharks and relatives) · Pristiophoriformes (sawsharks and relatives) · Squaliformes (gulper sharks, bramble sharks, lantern sharks, rough sharks, sleeper sharks, dogfish sharks and relatives) · Squatiniformes (angel sharks) · Symmoriida (extinct) · Xenacanthida (also known as Xenacantiformes, extinct)


Major species
Basking shark · Blue shark · Bull shark · Great hammerhead · Great white shark · Grey reef shark · Hammerhead shark · Megalodon · Megamouth shark · Nurse shark · Oceanic whitetip shark · Requiem shark · Scalloped hammerhead · Shortfin mako shark · Swellshark · Thresher shark · Tiger shark · Whale shark


Shark biology
Ampullae of Lorenzini · Mermaid's purses · Physical characteristics of sharks · Shark teeth · Shark threat display


Shark-human interaction
Attack (drum lines, International Shark Attack File, Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916, list of fatal, unprovoked shark attacks in the United States, shark net, shark proof cage, shark suit, Summer of the Shark· Captivity (shark tunnel· Conservation (grey nurse shark conservation, Shark Alliance, Shark Conservation Act, Shark Trust· Fishing (International Land-Based Shark Fishing Association, land-based shark fishing· Products (shark cartilage, shark finning, shark fin soup, shark liver oil)

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