July 14th is Shark Awareness Day, a holiday in which we admire the beautiful majesty of the mighty shark. Now, we at Bookstr are all about books, so I thought, why not combine sharks and books? What if sharks could read? What would reading be like for a shark? Are sharks better adapted for reading than humans? Using articles from WWF and NOAA, as well as a textbook I received some time ago titled Introduction to the Biology of Marine Life (Eleventh Edition), I have attempted to discover why sharks would make excellent readers and why we should get going on making waterproof books.
Diverse Shark Literature!
According to the WWF, “over 500 species of shark” (WWF) exist, living in a vast variety of habitats and coming in many different sizes. Sharks are also over 400 million years old (NOAA claims about 455 million) which, the WWF informs us, is older than dinosaurs. Such a diverse shark community is bound to have many literary interests and many takes on books, which means that they would divulge in books of all genres and types and have wonderful conversations on their book opinions. If sharks could write, they would each have different stories to tell and would produce a huge library of shark literature. Would you read a book written by a shark? I definitely would.
WWF reminds us that “sharks are apex predators” (WWF). Introduction to the Biology of Marine Life describes sharks eating a variety of prey from zooplankton to marine mammals. As renowned predators, sharks have many options when it comes to snacking while reading. I, personally, love to eat while reading (I consider myself a predator to popcorn and ice cream). With so much to choose from, sharks, perhaps, run the risk of getting caught up searching the shark convenience stores (this is definitely how sharks get food, right?)
Ampullae of Lorenzini
Sharks have an organ called the ampullae of Lorenzini (which sounds like a location in a fantasy book) that lets them sense electromagnetic fields, writes NOAA, which is really cool and definitely helpful for reading, somehow. WWF claims that it helps sharks “hone in on prey during the final phase of attack” (WWF), so perhaps it can help them scope out books better?
According to NOAA, sharks have “skin [that] feels exactly like sandpaper” and that “[reduces] friction from surrounding water when the shark swims” (NOAA). I think of it as being similar to trying to read while walk. When I walk, I move up and down, and then the book moves up and down, and then I can’t see it too well and then, if I’m outside, I probably trip over a rock or something. Even reading while driving isn’t all that great. Sharks can ride along, using their sandpaper skin to have the smoothest swim possible that will allow them to maintain focus. I mean, how useful is that?
I’m sure many people have stayed up late at night reading when they were supposed to be asleep. I certainly have. (Even as an adult I occasionally wreck my sleep schedule thanks to books) Sharks, writes NOAA, come equipped with night vision, which means they would be the perfect night readers, and even wouldn’t have to use a flashlight and risk giving themselves away. NOAA also states that sharks can see colors, which to me means that they can enjoy illustrations to their fullest.
Surprise! Sharks don’t have bones. They instead have cartilage, which, according to NOAA, makes them lighter, and, according to Introduction to the Biology of Marine Life, makes their skeletons (is it still called skeleton if there’s not bones involved? I’m not sure) harder than bone, allowing them to better chomp down on prey. So shark cartilage helps with snacking, and perhaps with finding good reading positions. Having to hold up my bone-filled body makes my arms fall asleep, so perhaps sharks don’t have to deal with that. The fact that they don’t have arms probably helps them avoid the risk of them going numb as well.
Sharks Have a Ridiculous Number of Teeth
WWF writes that sharks “can lose and replace thousands of teeth in their lifetimes” (WWF), with NOAA adding that “a sandbar shark will have around 35,000 teeth over the course of its lifetime” (NOAA). This, for me, means that sharks will never run out of bookmarks. How could you when you just wait for a tooth to fall out and then stick it in your page. You’ll have thousands anyway; might as well put them to some use.
All this, of course, leads to the ultimate question: how would sharks hold books anyway?