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 Shark Habitats

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Shelf Regions
© Shark Foundation
Illustration: The shelf regions are shown in orange, the continents in black.

The oceans contain more than 1,350 million tons of water which represents about 96% of the earth's entire water reserves. Still, for marine life the oceans do not hold the same attraction everywhere. What counts are the largest food supply and the best environmental conditions. Such attractive productive regions include, for example, the relatively flat - only about 200 m deep - layers or shelf regions over the continental shelf. This is where the rivers deposit nutrients into the water which in turn feed the microorganisms which form the basis of the food pyramid. Most of the 500 known shark species live in these biologically highly productive continental shelf areas.
Sharks are in equilibrium with the populations of their prey and thus play a role in maintaining a stable marine ecosystem.
In the oceans sharks are the most widely distributed hunters weighing more than 50 kg. They are called top predators because they are at the peak of the food pyramid. Some sharks are so-called super-predators which means they have no natural enemies except parasites and pathogens. White sharks, tiger sharks, oceanic whitetip sharks, as well as ocean mammals such as killer whales and sperm whales belong to the oceans' so-called super-predators.
Sharks play a key role as top predators. Directly or indirectly they regulate the natural balance of the populations of this food pyramid. Because they usually hunt older, weaker or sick prey, they also help maintain the health of the prey population. Healthy and strong individuals thus have a better chance of reproducing and passing on their genes.
Deepwater Creatures

Deepwater creatures have developed the most astonishing forms to cope with the extreme conditions of their dark, cold environment. Deep-sea sharks thus also have the most peculiar forms.

Goblin shark
© SeaPics / Shark Foundation
Illustration: A goblin shark (Mitsukurina owstoni).


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