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Amaze Your Friends with Shark Knowledge!


By Laura Sams

Laura Sams, a wildlife filmmaker for Splash and Bubbles, has met all kinds of sharks.
Which could be your favorite? You might be surprised!

Splash and Bubbles: Get Your Feet Wet - Whale Shark

“Hey, you’re the shark people! I love sharks,” shouted a 9-year old boy with messy brown hair and sitting in a small orange chair with his backpack still on. My brother Rob and I had just walked into the front office of an elementary school. We often visit schools to perform presentations about sharks, because in a delightful twist of career fate, we’ve been able to film sharks and write stories about them.

“Yes, we are the shark people. Do you have a favorite shark?” I asked him.

“Oh I don’t have a favorite shark,” he said, “But I have a second favorite shark. It’s the whale shark.”

I loved his answer.

First, I agree that whale sharks are incredible and deserve to be near the top of anyone’s favorite shark list (if you don’t already have a favorite shark list, ask your nearest kid for recommendations). The whale shark is the biggest fish in the ocean, growing longer than a school bus, yet this giant spotted shark has teeny, tiny teeth. It mostly eats plankton, and swims peacefully through the water to filter the tiny animals from the sea.

Second, I loved that this boy left room for a favorite, because with over 500 kinds of sharks in the ocean, there are a lot of sharks competing for that top spot. Why not leave room for a changing favorite?

Here are just a few suggestions for your favorite shark list.

Cookie cutter shark

The cookie cutter shark is a small shark that earned its name by taking perfectly round bites from its prey, like a cookie shape. Also, this shark GLOWS IN THE DARK.

Epaulette shark

This little shark hangs out on the sandy bottom of coral reefs, and while it can swim, it often just slowly walks along the ocean floor with its fins. It’s sometimes called “the walking shark.” It eats little crustaceans and worms.

Basking shark

This shark is the second biggest shark in the ocean, though its mouth might win the award for inspiring people to say “whoah look at that mouth.” The shark is a filter feeder, which opens its giant mouth to let water pour over its gills to collect tiny plankton in the water.

Sand Tiger Shark

Sand Tiger Shark

Sand Tiger shark

Sharks have complex social networks, and researchers discovered that sand tiger sharks have “friends” they visit at certain times of year. They even have BEST FRIENDS. Yes, sharks are individuals who like to hang out with other specific sharks sometimes.

The Pocket Shark

One of the smallest sharks in the ocean, this tiny shark probably doesn’t grow much more than half a foot long. It lives in such deep water, that barely anything is known about this creature, except that it has a pair of large pockets located by its front fins. What are those pockets used for? Nobody knows. Probably for holding tiny car keys.

Sharks are very diverse. The smallest shark species can practically fit in your hand, while the largest sharks could not . . . unless your hand was over 50 feet long. Sharks come in a wide variety of colors – grays, blues, browns, greens, whites, stripes and spots. Sharks come in an amazing variety of shapes too. The saw shark has a head shaped like a saw. The angel sharks are flattened like angelic pancakes. Thresher sharks can have a tail as long as their entire body.

I could keep writing about sharks for hours, but I figure you have somewhere you need to be. Let this be just a taste, to inspire you to think of a surprising, delightful shark that can become your favorite, or even your second favorite shark.

Laura Sams is a writer, songwriter and producer for Get Your Feet Wet, the interstitial segments that accompany the PBS KIDS series Splash and Bubbles. She and her brother own Sisbro Studios, which creates incredible media that truly inspires people, specializing in children's entertainment, science programming and comedy. Their clients include The Smithsonian Channel, The Jim Henson Company, Animal Planet, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and they have won Parents' Choice GOLD, the Wildscreen Panda Award (often called the Green Oscars®) and the Midwest Book Award for Best Children's Picture Book. Laura has performed for over 150,000 children through live educational assemblies around the country, from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to hundreds of schools and libraries.