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Celebrate Shark Week Every Week

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Shark Week comes but once a year, and we're marking the occasion with a feeding frenzy of shark-related content from around the Museum. From fossils to models to the latest research surrounding these iconic oceanic predators, whenever you're here, you can live every week like it's Shark Week. 

Whale shark
Whale sharks often feed passively, by swimming with their large mouths open. 
Jon Hanson

In the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, you can start a shark tour of the Museum at the whale shark model. Though they can grow up to an astounding 40 feet in length, the largest living sharks are gentle giants—like baleen whales, these animals are filter feeders, dining passively on meals that float the ocean currents, such as fish eggs, zooplankton, and tiny crustaceans known as krill. To learn more about these sharks, visit our full-length article here.

Megalodon fossil jaw is suspended from the ceiling in the Museum's Hall of Vertebrate Origins.
See fossilized Carcharodon megalodon teeth in the Hall of Vertebrate Origins.

Gigantic sharks weren't always such laid back leviathans, though. In the Hall of Vertebrate Origins on the fourth floor, you can check out the jaws of Carcharodon megalodon. Dwarfing today's great white sharks, these giant predators roamed Earth's oceans 10 million years ago. 

While they have a reputation as vicious predators, sharks can also be prey. Demand for shark fin soup has been on the rise in recent years, contributing to a higher demand for shark fins around the world and putting numerous species under pressure from hunters. The video above from Science Bulletins shows how researchers are tracking the trade behind this controversial cuisine.

A catshark shown biofluorescing in green.
Researchers have discovered that fluorescence helps catsharks like this swellshark (Cephaloscyllium ventriosum) see each other—and may even offer them a way to communicate.
© J. Sparks, D. Gruber, and V. Pieribone

Not all sharks are most notable for their predatory instincts, though. Curator John Sparks in the Museum's Department of Ichthyology recently authored a paper on species including catsharks and swellsharks. Sparks and his colleagues investigated the biofluorescent properties of these small sharks, which absorb light and re-emit is as a different color, causing them to shine in neon hues when viewed with a specialized lens.

Enjoy Shark Week, everyone!