toggle menu

In photos:

In photos: The secret world of sharks

30 Aug 2019


  • marine species
  • sharks

Today is International Whale Shark Day!

From shallow waters to the hidden depths of the ocean, whale sharks are just one of over 450 shark species found all around the world. Healthy shark populations are linked to thriving marine ecosystems. 

Are you ready to swap your fear for fascination? Keep scrolling and feast your eyes on this fin-tastic photo selection!



Whale shark (Rhincodon typus), Ningaloo Reef © Darren Jew / WWF-Aus

Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are the largest species of shark, however they are not predatory. They are filter feeders, and swim with their wide mouths open, to collect plankton and small fish.



Scalloped hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) schooling, Cocos Island, Costa Rica, Pacific Ocean © / Jeff Rotman / WWF

The scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) commonly preys on stingrays, using its famous wide head to pin stingrays against the seafloor.


Blue shark (Prionace glauca) swimming. Azores, Portugal, Europe, Atlantic Ocean © Joost van Uffelen / WWF

During mating, male blue sharks (Prionace glauca) are often seen biting females. To withstand this aggressive courtship, the skin of females is roughly three times thicker than that of males.


Great white shark © Wildlife Pictures / Jêrome Mallefet / WWF

Unlike most shark species, great whites (Carcharodon carcharias) are warm-blooded, which allows them to move faster when hunting prey.


Blacktip reef sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus) in shallow water gathering very close to shore, Indian Ocean © / Cheryl-Samantha Owen / WWF

Blacktip reef sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus) are one of the few sharks that work together to catch prey. When they find a school of fish, they collaborate to circle their prey into a tight ball before attacking.


Caribbean reef shark (Carcharhinus perezi) silhouetted against the sun, Atlantic Ocean © / Alex Mustard / WWF

All sharks have a unique “sixth sense” which allows them to detect electrical fields generated by other animals. Caribbean reef sharks (Carcharhinus perezi) are particularly well-adapted to detect the low frequency sounds emitted by struggling or injured fish.


A Shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) off the coast of California, United States © Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF

The shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) is known for its remarkable ability to leap out of the water, and has been seen jumping as high as nine metres!


A split level digital composite showing a Basking shark (Ceterhinus maximus) feeding on plankton around Cornwall, United Kingdom © / Alex Mustard / WWF

These sharks are often seen “basking” on the surface of the water, hence their name. However, they're not actually soaking up the sun, but feeding on clouds of plankton.


Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) seen while scuba diving at Shark and Ray,  Central America © Antonio Busiello/WWF-US

The nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) is a nocturnal fish that rests on the seafloor of shallow, warmer waters during the day. They're often found in groups, lying on top of each other.


Sand tiger sharks (Carcharias taurus) congregating near the shipwrecks off the coast of North Carolina. United States © Tanya Houppermans

Female sand tiger sharks (Carcharias taurus) usually give birth to two pups - one from each uterus. However, this miracle of life is more of a feeding frenzy. As the offspring grow larger, the strongest embryo in each womb kills and eats its sibling!

Recommended reading

A close up of green turtle (Chelonia mydas) © Shutterstock / Rich Carey / WWF-Sweden


Australia’s Ocean Odyssey LIVE Q&A

Last week, WWF-Australia hosted an exclusive LIVE Q&A for ABC’s new series, Australia’s Ocean Odyssey. Diving into the first part of our journey down ...

Read more