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12 Sharks in the Philippines

Hailing from the Philippines, Eric teaches elasmobranchology, the branch of biology that deals with sharks.

There are approximately 200 species of sharks in the Philippines, but they are not dangerous unlike what you see on shark movies. The waters in the country are not crowded by this animal compared to other parts of the planet and most of the species are timid, skittish, and living in deep waters.

The following are 12 examples of groups or species of sharks that can be found in the Philippines.

Ghost Shark

It is also called chimaera, spook fish, rabbitfish, or ratfish. This order of class Chondrichthyes is considered a living fossil. Scientists see them as a linkage between the evolution of cartilaginous fish to bony fish. Although they have a skeleton made of cartilage, they have some characteristics of a true fish. Their upper jaws are fused with their skulls; have separate anal and urogenital openings; gills are covered; and also lack of many sharp teeth, instead, they have grinding tooth plates.

They have smooth skin and have no scales. Their reproductive system is located on their forehead. They have a long poisonous spine in front of their dorsal fin to protect themselves from the enemy. These swimmers can be found at depth as 700 meters in the ocean.

Megalodon

This is a fossilized tooth of a megalodon

This is a fossilized tooth of a megalodon

Millions of years ago, the prehistoric giant once lived in the archipelagic country. The fossilized teeth from the fearsome cartilaginous fish were accidentally discovered in Bohol in 2018. It is the largest shark ever lived on earth roaming the ocean in the past. Since their skeleton is composed of cartilage, only teeth are the only remains of Megalodon anywhere in the world.

Whale Shark

It is the only member of its genus and family. It is the largest fish and chondrichthyan living today. It can grow up to 12 meters long and can weigh 20,000 kg. They are filter-feeding, feed exclusively on plankton and other small swimmer.

This animal is featured on the 100 Philippine peso bill. Local call it butanding. It is not a dangerous living thing, in fact, you can swim with them. However, it is considered a vulnerable animal and protected, never attempt to touch it, or else, you can fine or possible prison sentence by just doing it.

Hammerhead Shark

It is easily distinguished from other selachimorph by its flattened and expanded hammer-shaped head. The unusual-shaped head improves its ability to find prey.

These strong swimmers usually travel in schools. They do not actively seek out human prey, but are very defensive and will attack when provoked. There are only 17 documented attacks by these pelagic swimmers since 1580 AD and all of them are not fatal.

Thresher Shark

It has an unusual, long tail, the length is the same as its body. They use it as a whip to stun prey before feeding them.

They are fast swimmers that will sometimes leap out of the water. It has no records of attacks. They are very timid and skittish. If you swim with them, they will swim away.

Swell Shark

The name obtains from its ability to expand when threatened. It gulps water into its stomach, swelling to almost twice its size and becoming difficult to bite. It is also called barking shark due to its dog-like bark sound when it expels the water from the body when the danger past. They are poor swimmers and not aggressive.

They spent their time resting in crevices, caves, and holes, stack on top of each other.

Lanternshark

They are the smallest sharks in the world found in deep waters. They have the bioluminescent property, hence the name. Yes, they glow in the dark. They emit light to attract the prey and to hide to the predators. There are lots of lanternsharks species living in the Philippines, include Marsha's, black belly, spiny cheek, and short-tail lanternshark.

Great White Shark

They are gray with a white underbelly. These are the largest predatory fish on earth and are fearsome man-eaters. These dangerous creatures are found not only in the Philippines but throughout the world’s oceans, mostly in cool waters close to the coast.

Wobbegong

Wobbegongs are benthic creatures, spending their time on the seafloor. They are well camouflaged because of the carpet-like pattern on its body. They also have small weed-like whisker lobes surrounding the jaw, which act as sensory barbels. It is capable to dislocate its jaw to swallow large prey even larger than itself.

Cookie-cutter Shark

Like the lanternsharks, these creatures are small, capable to emit light, and inhabit deep waters. Despite the size and location of the habitat, this group of living thing is a nightmare. They are known to travel in school and feed by removing a cookie-shaped chunk from its larger prey using the serrated bottom teeth. They also purposely swallow the loose teeth to recycle the calcium for its body.

Basking Shark

It is the only member of its genus and family. It is the second-largest fish after the whale sharks which can grow up to 8 m. They spend their time near the surface of the water with open mouth and filtering out plankton. Females have a gestation period of at least 3 years and give birth to the largest babies of all fishes.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What is the largest shark ever lived on earth?
    • Megalodon
    • whale shark
  2. What kind of shark featured in 100 Philippine peso bill?
    • hammerhead shark
    • whale shark
  3. What happens to the swell sharks when they feel a threat?
    • It expands its body.
    • It barks similar to dogs.

Answer Key

  1. Megalodon
  2. whale shark
  3. It expands its body.

Saw Shark

It is easily distinguished by its long saw-like snout. They use it to kill the prey. They move it quickly side to side to cuts its victim into fine chops. They have a pair of barbels in the middle of the snout which acts as a sensory organ.

Pups hatch the eggs inside the mother. While in the mother, pups' teeth are inverted into their mouth to prevent harm. They have litters of 3–22 pups every 2 years.

See Also:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Eric Caunca

Comments

Eric Caunca (author) from Philippines on September 23, 2020:

Thank you.

JC Scull from Gainesville, Florida on September 11, 2020:

Excellent article about sharks.