While sharks have been stereotyped as ferocious, they are undeniably some of the coolest creatures on Earth. From the striking great white shark to the extinct megalodon, these kings and queens of the ocean have always played a vital role in the health of their ecosystem. Though we understand their importance, we still have much to learn about them. Read on to discover which of the seven incredible shark stories from 2019 is your favorite.
The murder of a great white shark
This unusual shark story involves Vinh Pham, a commercial fisherman who was convicted of illegally killing a great white shark. The death of the 9-foot-long great white created headlines early last year when it was found lifeless on Beer Can Beach in Aptos, California. The mysterious death of the predator became the subject of a criminal investigation. Officials stayed quiet about the case until six months later, when they indicted Pham for the illegal shooting and death of the shark. Pham was placed on conditional probation for two years and was fined $5,000.
One giant fish and his unbelievable appetite
A sea turtle is too big for a shark to swallow whole, but one great white shark was determined to have his snack. The merciless predator crushed a sea turtle and then choked to death trying to swallow it. This was a rare occurrence that stunned experts.
A fish-eat-fish lifestyle
In the summer of 2019, an underwater vehicle from the Okeanos Explorer (a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel) documented an unbelievable incidence of almost a dozen dogfish sharks enjoying a swordfish carcass that had plunged to the seafloor. A few minutes later, a goliath grouper (a giant fish) was caught on-film crunching into one of the sharks and swallowing it whole.
Rare shark genes
Great white sharks have the incredible ability to grow enormously, heal quickly, and live long lives. Early this year, an international team of scientists classified the genome of the great white shark and made a comparative analysis of it with the genomes of other vertebrate species. The team found extraordinary genetic characteristics that illustrate why great white sharks have these marvelous capabilities that make them the superheroes of the ocean.
A record-breaking shark pregnancy
A massive female great white shark who was reportedly pregnant with 14 pups was accidentally caught by fishermen in Taiwan and sold at a market. The 15-foot-long pregnant mama was bought for less than $2,000 by a Taiwanese taxidermy company.
South Carolina’s beast-like visitors
The coast of South Carolina is a drawcard for great white sharks every year, but this past spring, two insanely large specimens cruised scarily close to shore. A 15-foot great white shark named Luna enjoyed a casual swim above an undersea bank about 80 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. Meanwhile, Caroline, a 12-foot shark, was spotted hanging out closer to South Carolina’s Edisto Beach. According to a Charlotte Observer report, Luna headed northward to the Outer Banks after enjoying her swim through the shallower coastal waters.
Megalodons vs great whites
A new study revealed that ancient megalodon sharks may have been outmatched by a smaller predator – the great whites. Researchers thought that the megalodon died out 2.6 million years ago as a result of a mass extinction event in the sea. However, fossil records from megalodon sharks seem to dissipate at around 3.6 million years ago, leaving scientists to assume that the giant predator may have died out well before the mass extinction event. Since the great white sharks arrived in the oceans around 4 million years ago – 400,000 years prior to megalodon’s modified death date – scientists are theorizing that the great white may have outperformed the megalodon as a leading ocean predator.