9 Things I Learned About Sharks While Writing a Shark Shifter Romance Novel

Here’s the thing: before Olivia and I started working on our Sea Assassins Trilogy, I knew nothing about sharks except that they were scary mofos and I planned to swim rapidly in the other direction if I ever encountered one.

So why base a series on them?

That’s a long story, but can basically be summed up with this: because we could.

I’m so glad we did though, because SHARKS ARE SO RAD. They are literally one of the most interesting species of animals to exist on this fine planet and do not get nearly enough recognition for how dope they are. Instead, all anybody ever thinks about is how scary and dangerous they are, a myth that has been perpetrated since even before rise in popularity of killer shark films.

Guess what? Sharks being bloodthirsty, violent monsters is fake news, people! Keep reading to find out why you should give a damn about these dogs of the deep and how you can help offset the detrimental effects of their greatest predator. (Hint: it’s us.)

Now, without further ado…SHOW ME THE SHARK FACTS.

1. Sharks are old as dirt

 30 rock old steve buscemi out of touch how do you do GIFSharks have been around for over 450 million years. That means that they have survived all of the five great extinction events in the Earth’s history, one of which wiped out 95% of all life on Earth, which makes sharks one of the oldest surviving organisms around—older than trees, even. No wonder they’re near perfect predators. Imagine having 450 million years to hone your brunch game. You’d come out with some pretty special abilities too.

2. Sharks see all

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Certainly more than David Mitchell, in any case.

Well, maybe not all all, but they can see a lot. A shark has near 360 degree vision, with only two blind spots—the front of their snouts and just behind their heads. Not only that, but their eyes have this fancy thing called the tapetum lucidum that helps refract more light into their eyes, allowing them to see even in dark, murky waters. This was a feature I jumped all over when writing Betrayal and Redemption, since I figured being able to see in the dark would be a pretty handy talent as an assassin. Even when the water’s clear, sharks can still see up to ten times better than your average Joe human. Think about that the next time you go for a moonlit skinny dip.

3. Where their sight fails, their spidey-senses prevail

 movie mean girls amanda seyfried fifth sense GIFSharks have an amazing array of tools at their disposal when it comes to hunting prey and seeking mates. First up: electroreception. Sharks can detect the slightest electrical changes in the water. But what does that mean? Well, heartbeats are electrical impulses and blood alters the conductivity of the water—all of which sharks can sense. Sharks (and many other aquatic vertebrates) also have a pretty groovy apparatus called a lateral line, which helps detect even the subtlest pressure changes in the water. All this sensory detection pairs nicely with their exceptional sense of smell—probably the most well-known shark attribute. Yes, they can smell a drop of blood in an Olympic sized swimming pool, but they can also feel it. You bet these abilities are getting a shout out in the third Sea Assassins book.

4. They can tell with one bite whether they want to chow down or keep shopping

Cheezburger funny dog pugs funny dog GIF
Do. Not. Want.

Shark bites happen, as do fender benders, bad dye jobs, and 55 hour marriages. You’ve heard that sharks sometimes mistake surfers for seals, resulting in a few nasty chomps here and there, but did you know that sharks like to try before they buy? Great White Sharks need to eat around 11 tons of food a year, which is crazy when you consider that humans eat on average a half ton. Not only that, but they require a lot of fat in their diet, which is why it’s incredibly handy that they can tell if something has enough fat content just by having a nibble. If it doesn’t? The shark backs off and goes in search of something a little more satisfying. And if you don’t think that’s amazing…

5. Sharks are the healthiest bad boys in the deep blue sea

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Many people believe that sharks are immune to cancer, which totally isn’t true, but they do have relatively low disease rates. Because sharks are mostly made of cartilage, they have a stronger immune system and a reduced likelihood of developing tumors.  Unfortunately, many people believe ingesting shark cartilage will cure their cancer or whatever else ails them, which it doesn’t. Shocker.

6. There are around 400 species of sharks around today

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This ugly mf is a goblin shark. Pretty cool, right?

You’ve probably heard of hammerheads and whale sharks, but what about cookiecutter sharks or leopard sharks? There are more species of sharks than there are Nora Roberts novels, which is saying something. There are Greenland sharks that scientists speculate could live for hundreds of years. There are goblin sharks that feed by launching their jaws at their prey. There are even mako sharks that have been clocked at 43 mph and can jump 20 feet in the air. Sharks are found in every ocean on Earth, from the shallows to the open sea. There are even about 20 species of sharks (like the bull shark) that can survive in fresh water environments. So many sharks, so little time.

7. There are only 5-10 fatal shark attacks a year

 shark laser sharks austin powers lasers GIFThat’s out of 30-50 shark attacks total. Worldwide. You literally have a higher chance of dying from falling out of bed or being crushed by a vending machine. (And let’s face it, if you’re going to go—wouldn’t you rather be taken down by a shark?) In all seriousness, out of those 400 species of sharks, 97% of them are completely harmless to humans. The other 3% frankly do not give a flying fish about you and think it’s a little creepy that you’re so obsessed with them.

8. We are messing sharks up big time

 parks and recreation bad amy poehler leslie knope tinder GIFHuman activities are the driving factor behind the decline of many animal species, but we’re really doing a number on sharks. As far as fishing goes, thresher and silky are most at risk. Many people falsely consider their fins and cartilage to be miracle cures, which is a claim that has been scientifically disproved time and time again. Over a hundred million sharks are killed each year commercially and recreationally. If this doesn’t seem like a lot to you, keep in mind that it takes around 10 years for a silky shark to reach sexual maturity, and even then they have few pups in their lifetime. Without adequate time for populations to recover, this problem is only going to keep snowballing. Let’s also not forget the parts that pollution and the over-fishing of other sea life have to play in this production. Sharks are literally some of nature’s best survivors. They’ve made an art out of it. At the end of the day, if they bite the big one it’s going to be our fault.

9. If sharks go extinct, we’re gonna have a bad time

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No sharks? No dancing lobsters.

Many sharks are the top of the food chain, which means their existence affects all forms of marine life. You like eating lobster? You better like sharks too because they’re the ones making sure our slippery octopus friends aren’t eating all the lobster. Sharks also play an instrumental role in cleaning the ocean of dead animals, and filter feeding sharks help control algae blooms and zooplankton populations.

It’s a big problem when any animal species goes extinct, but sharks play an important role in almost every ocean ecosystem on earth. And, unlike the cuddly sea turtle, people seem to have a hard time getting on board with shark conservation efforts. This has begun to change in recent years but lots of people still don’t know how dope sharks are and how much they need our help. I certainly didn’t. It took me doing research for a romance novel to figure it out, and I’m really glad I did.

So what can you do to help?

Oceana, Shark Savers, the IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group, and Predators in Peril are just a few of the many organizations dedicated to shark and ocean conservation, and their websites have a great list of resources for those interested in keeping these beauties in bountiful supply. Even if you can’t donate money or go on a shark-saving crusade, here are a few simple things you can do to help save our ocean’s most glorious predators:

  • Remember that shark fin soup = bad and shark cartilage will not cure your cancer, improve your assets, or do whatever else someone’s claiming it will do
  • Be mindful of your carbon footprint.
  • Tell everyone you know how awesome sharks are. Share this blog post, write a tweet, shout it from the rooftops, whatever. Whatever you do, don’t keep it to yourself!
  • Memorize this mantra: sharks are friends, not terrifying sea monsters who will gobble you up the second you dip your toes into the water.

If you also think sharks are dope as hell (or are just curious how they would work in a romance novel), check out our Sea Assassins Trilogy! We just released the second novel, Redemption, and are working on the third as we speak. They’re free on KU or $2.99 each!

On a calm November evening, a ship disappears off the coast of Washington without a trace…

When Darcy Davies finds a handsome man washed up on the beach, he’s three things: injured, naked, and rude. And he’s got a few demands. Somewhere safe. No hospital.

Tell no one.

While Darcy takes him in, she’s no fool. She knows he was involved in whatever happened at sea that night. But is he a victim or a villain? One thing’s for certain—even if he’s not a danger to her person, this sexy stranger is a danger to her heart.

Gabriel Barnes can’t tell which is more of a pain in his side—the curvy brunette who plucked him off the beach, or the literal pain in his side.

Gabriel’s secret will be hard to keep in such close quarters, especially with injuries that are healing much too fast. But he’s got bigger problems.

It wasn’t an accident that brought him here.

It was a betrayal.

Did you like the shark facts? Got a rad shark fact of your own that you want to share? Comment below!

– Danielle


Further Reading:

http://www.sharksavers.org
https://www.sharksider.com
http://sharkopedia.discovery.com/
http://predatorsinperil.org/
http://www.iucnssg.org/

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