Outline of sharks

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A great white shark at Isla Guadalupe, Mexico

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to sharks:

Sharks (superorder Selachimorpha) – a type of fish with a full cartilaginous skeleton and a highly streamlined body. The earliest known sharks date from more than 440 million years ago, before the time of the dinosaurs.[1]

Fields that study sharks[edit]

  • Ichthyology – branch of zoology devoted to fish (including sharks)
  • Meristics – branch of ichthyology that relates to counting features of fish, such as the number of fins or scales

What is a shark?[edit]

A shark, also called a "selachimorph", can be described as all of the following:

  • Animal – multicellular, eukaryotic organism of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. An animal's body plan eventually becomes fixed as it develops, although some types of animal undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most kinds of animal are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and independently.
    • Chordate – Chordates (phylum Chordata) are animals which are either vertebrates or one of several closely related invertebrates.
      • Fish – gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate (or craniate) animal that lacks limbs with digits.
        • Chondrichthye (cartilaginous fish) – jawed fish with paired fins, paired nares, scales, two-chambered hearts, and skeletons made of cartilage rather than bone.
          • Elasmobranch – member of the subclass Elasmobranchii, which includes sharks, rays, and skates.
  • Predator – organism that attacks and feeds on prey (the organism that is attacked).[2]
    • Apex predator – some shark species are apex predators, that is, predators with no predators of their own, residing at the top of their food chain.[3]

Biological classification[edit]

Diagram showing shark "family tree"
Further information: Biological classification

Types of sharks[edit]

Main article: List of sharks

Subdivisions of the biological classification Selachimorpha include:

Shark behavior[edit]

Photo of front page of newspaper showing photo of large shark with open mouth
The Philadelphia Inquirer report of Jersey Shore shark attack.

Shark attacks[edit]

Main article: Shark attack

Range and habitats of sharks[edit]


  • Bodies of water in which sharks can be found include:
  • Depths: from the surface down to depths of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft).
Photo of whale shark with silhouettes of human observers at bottom of picture
A whale shark in the Georgia Aquarium


  • White Shark Cafe – remote mid-Pacific Ocean area noted as a winter and spring habitat of otherwise coastal great white sharks

Sharks in captivity[edit]

Main article: Sharks in captivity

Shark anatomy[edit]

Anatomical shark drawing showing snout, nostril, eye, spiracle, dorsal fin spine, first and second dorsal fins, precaudal pit, caudal fin, caudal keel, anal fin, clasper, pelvic fin, pectoral fin, gill openings, labial furrow, and mouth

Protective equipment[edit]

Simplified diagram of shark net

Shark fishing[edit]

Shark conservation[edit]

Shark Trust logo
  • 1992 Cageless shark-diving expedition – 1st publicized cageless dive with great white sharks which contributed to changing public opinions about the supposed "killing machine"
  • Shark Alliance – coalition of non-governmental organizations dedicated to restoring and conserving shark populations by improving European fishing policy
  • Shark Conservation Act – Proposed US law to protect sharks
  • Shark sanctuary – Palau's first-ever attempt to prohibit taking sharks within its territorial waters
  • Shark tourism – form of ecotourism showcasing sharks
  • Shark Trust – A UK organisation for conservation of sharks

Notable sharks[edit]

Notable researchers and people[edit]

Photo of bearded man
Hans Hass, diving pioneer
  • Peter Benchley – author of the novel Jaws, later worked for shark conservation
  • Jacques-Yves Cousteau – French naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of life in water including sharks
  • Eugenie Clark – American ichthyologist researching poisonous fish and the behavior of sharks; popularly known as The Shark Lady
  • Leonard Compagno – international authority on shark taxonomy, best known for 1984 catalog of shark species (FAO)
  • Ben Cropp – Australian former shark hunter, who stopped in 1962 to produce some 150 wildlife documentaries
  • Richard Ellis – American marine biologist, author, and illustrator.
  • Rodney Fox – Australian film maker, conservationist, survivor of great white shark attack and one of the world's foremost authorities on them
  • Andre Hartman – South African diving guide best known for free-diving unprotected with great white sharks
  • Hans Hass – diving pioneer, known for shark documentaries
  • Mike Rutzen – great white shark expert and outspoken champion of shark conservation; known for free diving unprotected with great white sharks
  • Ron & Valerie Taylor – ex-spearfishing champions who switched from killing to filming underwater documentaries

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Martin, R. Aidan. "Geologic Time". ReefQuest. Retrieved 2006-09-09. 
  2. ^ Begon, M., Townsend, C., Harper, J. (1996). Ecology: Individuals, populations and communities (Third edition). Blackwell Science, London. ISBN 0-86542-845-X, ISBN 0-632-03801-2, ISBN 0-632-04393-8.
  3. ^ "apex predator". PBS. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  4. ^ Fernicola, Twelve Days of Terror
  5. ^ "Summer of the Shark". Time. July 30, 2001. Retrieved May 20, 2010. 

External links[edit]