Guest Comment: During Shark Week, Test Your Chesapeake Shark Knowledge
By Kathleen Gaskell
Kathleen Gaskell is an editor at Bay Journal, where it was first post like the Chesapeake Challenge.
At least 12 species of sharks have been sighted in the Chesapeake Bay. Can you match the five most common species with their descriptions? The answers are below.
- Sand tiger shark.
- Spiny dogfish.
- Shark River Bar.
- Smooth dogfish.
- Bull shark.
- Look for Chesapeake Bay’s most common shark species in summer and fall, when the estuary is one of its most important east coast nursery grounds. This 6 to 8 foot shark prefers areas with a smooth bottom, where its prey is found – fish, small sharks, rays and blue crabs.
- This shark makes summer visits to the bay. It has a gland that allows it to swim in salt and fresh water and has been found in Maryland’s Patuxent River. One of the three most dangerous shark species, it does not yet pose a major threat to the bay. It can reach 11.5 feet long and 500 pounds by eating fish, rays, smaller sharks, crustaceans, turtles, and even aquatic mammals.
- This 10-foot shark swims in the Lower Chesapeake Bay in summer and fall. A female has hundreds of fertilized eggs and several fetal sharks in each of her two wombs. By the time she gives birth, however, only one cub remains in each uterus; he ate the other eggs and his siblings. This nocturnal bottom feeder feeds mainly on fish and squid.
- This 3-foot summer and fall visitor is common in the Lower Chesapeake in waters less than 60 feet deep. It moves in packs along the bottom, feeding on crustaceans, molluscs, squid and small fish. He is generally shy and avoids humans.
- This 4-foot, big-eyed, slow-swimming shark is typically found in the deeper waters of the Lower Bay, south of the Potomac River, from late fall to early spring. Behind its dorsal fins are spines that shoot venom at potential predators. It often travels in packs with hundreds of its own species, feeding on herring, shrimp, crab, squid, and octopus.
Make an unlikely shark attack even less likely
The probability of a shark attack in the United States is 1 in 5 million. Global average of deaths from shark attacks: less than 10. Annual average of deaths worldwide after being hit by a champagne cork: 24.
Number of unprovoked shark attacks in the Chesapeake Bay: 0.
Here are a few tips though.
Safety in numbers: sharks are more likely to bite a single individual. Swim among other people. The other advantage is that if an attack occurs, people will be nearby to help.
Avoid their dinner times and hangouts: Sharks are not only more active at night, dawn and dusk, but they can see you better than you can see them at these times. Stay away from sandbanks and steep drop-offs.
Don’t act or look like food: Sharks have a heightened sense of smell and can detect the tiniest amount of blood. If you get cut, stay out of the water. Sparkling or shiny jewelry looks like fish scales underwater. A shark’s sense of sight is particularly sensitive to contrast: if you’re unevenly tanned or wearing brightly colored swimsuits, you’re more likely to look like prey, especially in murky waters. . Splashing is not a good idea as it can make you appear like distressed prey. This is especially true for pets in water.
Don’t be food buddy: People who fish often use chum or baitfish, which attract sharks. See seabirds while diving? Not good. This most likely indicates the presence of baitfish.
Don’t be fooled by myth: it has been said that sharks won’t be around if dolphins are swimming nearby. It’s not true.
Take inspiration from the theme song “Jaws”: if you spot a shark, get out of the water quickly and with as little splash as possible. Warn others! The shark may only be curious and unlikely to bite unless provoked. Even if he bites, it may just be a warning to back off. Comply. In the rare case of an actual attack, experts say to retaliate (continually heading for shore, if possible). Strike the shark’s nose, gills or eyes, the parts where it is most sensitive.
- Shark River Bar
- bull shark
- sand tiger shark
- Spiny Dogfish
- spiny dogfish