The other side of sharks | Daily News


The other side of sharks

The shark is supposed to be the most dreaded marine inhabitant. Those who have seen ‘jaws’ on the wide screen or on television will get a glimpse of the blood-thirsty reputation of sharks. It was the biggest ‘fish story’ of our time. It is indeed a fishy story because scientists and marine biologists have found sharks to be very timid creatures.

It is, however, a beautiful fish. Unfortunately, its sleek body structure, with its large streamlined horizontal mouth and, the in-turned set of sharp teeth make its name synonymous with undesirable humans in society.

Various sizes

In our country, people often refer to Gini kana mora, mini kana mora or niyoma mora. Nevertheless, the shark is a much sought after fish when there is a mother to be awaiting the arrival of the new comer to the world.

It is said that a kiri mora dish would make a mother to suckle more milk. Sharks come in various sizes. We are more familiar with the small kiri-mora. Sharks lived in the oceans 400 million years ago, long before the dinosaurs.

They have evolved into many species. Their sizes could be different as a mouse from an elephant. The thresher fish has a very long tail. The angel shark is flat as a skate.

The hammer-headed shark looks grotesque among all line creatures with its eyes located quite a distance apart on the head. The swordfish has a chainsaw a type of long snout. The Whale shark is the biggest and many measures about 15 metres.

Dissecting tables

There are more than 350 species of sharks. We have seen only a very few. In our own country how many of us would have placed sharks measuring around 25cm on dissecting tables and displayed their cranial nerves as neatly as possible at the Advanced Level classes of yesteryear.

One shudders to think of the sharks that have sacrificed their lives for the glory of science. Humans save lives of their own kind and of all living creatures, as doctors and veterinary surgeons because of them.

Their studies on sharks have shown to the world, the true lifestyle of a lovely creature. Their sacrifices have not been in vain.

They are fascinating. Their teeth and the scales along with their body structure and functions have amazed scientists.

A dental conveyor belt ensures it a never ending set of sharp teeth. Its bite could shear off a prey. Its organs of sense are unique.

It could, while swimming, detect the blood of decaying fish even when diluted to one in a million parts of water. Its night vision and hearing are unbelievable. It can sense the erratic splashes of injured fish or dumping of garbage overboard.

Even the roar of helicopter blades or the roar of blades over floating devices being constructed by workmen, attract sharks from long distance. They were sure of finding food at the location.

Apart from all these assets, it is supposed to have a sixth sense. It can actually see electricity. Muscles of all animals radiate electrical impulses. Salt adds to its conductivity. So, the shark could ‘spot’ a dead carcas of a fish under the seabed with ease.

They are avid travellers. At times up to 15,000 kilometres. They follow the ocean currents. It could move up rivers during high tide.

It supple body could make it a lovely turn like how a dog turns round and round trying to get at its tail. In a whiplash movement, the shark could take off at around 80 km. They have no swim blades, like other fish. So, they have to keep moving. Otherwise, they sink.

Sharks are amazingly healthy. Their wounds heal quickly. Their blood contains antibodies that can combat a vast array of diseases.

They never get cancer or malignant growths that cause death and suffering to humans and other animals. Its unique immune system could ward off certain chemicals that would kill a human being.

They have fed sharks an extremely potent carcinogen called ‘aflatoxin’ found in the mould of corn, peanuts and other field crops and found that they were not able to produce a single tumour in the shark.

One of the sharks most potent cancer fighter is its unusual skeleton, made up of entire cartilage.

Robert Langer a chemical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has discovered an ingredient in shark cartilage that stops blood vessels fro feeding and growing tumours. It could be the cure for cancer.

Age conquers all. The ageing process of the shark is the same as ours. Diminishing of one’s eyesight is a sign of age. Scientists are baffled how the shark’s lenses are not affected by age. No cases of cataract have been detected.

Greatest enemy

A chemical extracted from shark cartilage is being tested to find its curative properties in the treatment of burn victims. The shark is the most overexploited fish. Millions of sharks are caught for food.

The shark’s greatest enemy is the man. A creature that had lived two hundred times than man is reaching extinction. They grow slowly and produce very few young.

Humans mutilate sharks. Their fins are chopped off and the bleeding fish is thrown back to the sea.

The processed fins are dipped in rice wine and enjoyed by some humans while the finless, bleeding sharks become a prey to other bloodthirsty inhabitants of the sea.

The shark is a friend of man. Shark liver oil with all its vitamins makes children and even adults remain healthy. Capsules are more acceptable because of the ‘fishy’ taste. Its lovely grey colour is used by us. Sharkskin suit, shoes and handbags are quite popular.

It is the only fish that keep our oceans clean. Without them, the world’s oceans would be filled with sick, dying and dead fish.

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