May 13 – Fintastic Friday: Giving Sharks, Skates, and Rays a Voice

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About the Holiday

Fintastic Friday was established by Whale Times to bring awareness to and promote advocacy about conservation efforts to save some of the ocean’s most magnificent creatures. Whale Times, Inc. was created in 1995 to provide kids with easy access to marine science information. Their mission is to create a connections between the ocean, ocean research, researchers, and students through formal and informal educational programs. Respected by educators, marine scientists, and other scientific organizations, Whale Times inspires students to consider careers in marine science and work toward solutions for protecting our ocean environments. Whale Times invites kids all over the world to get involved to save sharks through three activities:

  • Zone It! Help make the entire ocean a shark conservation zone by making others aware of the dangers to shark populations and printing out the special poster found at whaletimes.org.
  • Thank Them in a Big Way! Through letters or personal conversations, thank the scientists and conservationists working to protect sharks
  • Sharks in the Park Rally! Consider holding a shark rally or party to make others aware of shark and ocean related conservation issues

Discovering Sharks

Written by Donna Parham | Illustrated by Julius T Csotonyi

 

When you pick up Discovering Sharks, you’ll immediately know you’re reading a unique book. The cover, with the texture and heft of shark skin, features a great white, teeth bared, eye glinting, bearing down on you, the reader! But don’t be afraid—open this book to pages filled with incredible illustrations and information on one of the most fascinating species to swim the seas. Here are just a few:

Carcharocles Megalodon: living during the Miocene and Pliocene Periods, this mammoth shark grew to 50 feet in length and had serrated teeth, some of which were 7 inches tall! These sharks dwarfed the whales, sea turtles, other sea creatures that made up its meals. Even land animals that were unfortunate enough to swim into it’s path were gobbled up.

Cladoselache: This smaller shark grew to a length of 4 to 6 feet and lived during the Devonian Period. It’s a good thing dentists weren’t around back then because this shark would have been their worst nightmare! With a mouth at the tip of its snout and ragged, jagged teeth, this shark was great at grabbing food, but not so good at chewing it.

Whorl-Tooth Shark: With a tooth shaped like the blade of a circular saw growing vertically from the shark’s lower jaw, the Whorl-tooth is perhaps one of the oddest sea creatures to ever live. No amount of orthodontia could ever fix those teeth!

A section on Fearsome Sharks comes next. While you may think that all sharks look scary, very few actually pose danger to people. If you see any of these, however, you better get out of the way!

Tiger Shark: Sporting dark vertical stripes along its back and sides, this 20-foot long monster doesn’t talk trash—he eats it! Scarfing up ocean waste such as “plastic bags, barrels, cans, and pieces of coal,” they are not adverse to snacking on “chickens, pigs, donkeys, and monkeys that fall off boats or go for a swim.” It actually seems there is nothing these sharks won’t eat!

The Great Hammerhead: With its distinctive hammer-shaped snout, this shark hunts prey in a most unusual fashion. Along its wide head are tiny sensors that pick up the small electrical pulses emitted by every kind of creature—even you! Once the shark senses the electrical field, it’s probably too late!

Blacktip Shark: If this whole shark gig doesn’t work out, this unusual giant may find a place in a ballet troupe. While feeding, this quick swimmer “sometimes…leaps free of the water and spins in the air—once, twice, or three times—before falling back into the sea.” Quite a performance!

A chapter on Endangered Sharks are up next. Nearly one-third of shark species are considered endangered or threatened due to environmental and human causes. Sharks are captured for food, for their tough skin, and for the oils and vitamins in their liver. In some places shark fin soup is a delicacy, served for special occasions. Huge trawlers also catch sharks in their fishing nets and on lines. This “bycatching” is a major reason behind the decline of shark populations. Here are two of the species on that list:

Daggernose Shark: With its flat, razor-sharp nose this sleek, 5-foot-long beauty cuts through the shallow waters off the Northern South African coast. It is currently on the Critically Endangered list, which means it will likely become extinct in your lifetime.

Whitespotted Izak: Tiny by the standards of fiercer sharks, this Izak is only 12 inches long. Its name comes from the white spots on its body whose only purpose seem to be breaking up its brown spots. Now on the Endangered list, this striking species has nearly vanished.

Deepwater Sharks may be some of the most unusual sharks of all. Sporting eye-popping adaptations to their forbidding environments, these sharks are like nothing you’ve ever seen before! Here are a couple:

Bahamas Sawshark: Carrying its own double-edged saw in front of it, this shark found in the waters near Cuba, Florida, and the Bahamas strikes with stunning force.

Viper Dogfish: You might wonder where this shark’s fins went! The stubby body on this shark makes it look more like a torpedo than a shark. Only recently discovered in 1990, the Dogfish swims the depths off the coasts of Japan and Hawaii

The last section is reserved for “Superlatives”—sharks that demonstrate unique qualities: most warm-blooded, biggest, most likely to get stepped on, most unusual feeding method, most mysterious, and more.

This is just a small sampling of the absorbing facts and species found in Discovering Sharks. Donna Parham offers statistics, scientific data, and trivia about each shark in a conversational, riveting way that will keep kids glued to this book and wanting to return again and again.

The incredible work of natural history illustrator Julius T Csotonyi will take your breath away anew with each page. The vivid colors and textures of the sharks reefs, sea plants, and other fish are so intricately mastered that you will feel as if you’re snorkeling in the depths as well. Lit with the sun, the clear ocean waters show off the beautiful markings of each species, and the murky sea bottom holds unfathomable mystery.

Shark lovers, dinosaur aficionados, monster mavens, and more creature enthusiasts will want Discovering Sharks in their library.

Ages 5 and up

Cider Mill Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1604336047

Gardening for Wildlife Activity

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Guess the Garden Differences

 

No two gardens are exactly alike. Can you find the differences in the two pictures of kids having fun in their gardens? Print out the Guess the Garden Differences puzzle and have fun!

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