Mike Heithaus, newly named interim dean of the FIU College of Arts & Sciences, has devoted his career to studying one of the world’s most intriguing predators — sharks. His ecological work focuses on the influence of predator-prey interactions on community dynamics in marine systems. On the eve of Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week, which begins Sunday, FIU’s premier shark enthusiast shares five things you may not know about the oceans’ most feared and largely misunderstood predators.
- Many sharks glow in the dark.
- Not all sharks are top predators. Many smaller sharks are actually the meal-of-choice for other sharks like tigers, whites, hammerheads and bulls.
- Fear of sharks isn’t just for Shark Week. For people, the fear is not really justified. But for their prey, it is and that is actually a good thing.
- No matter what you’ve heard on TV, the megalodon is extinct. (Also, in case you were wondering, mermaids are not real. Seriously. There is no NOAA cover-up.)
- Though they are fascinating creatures, sharks actually lead pretty boring lives. Footage captured by FIU researchers from cameras attached to the backs of sharks proves they mostly swim all day doing nothing in particular. Some, like nurse sharks, spend a lot of their time lying around. If you’re looking for a little more excitement, you might want to look into turtles.