Top Ten Shark Countdown – #1

Who is the (final) Shark of the Week?!?!?

The Great White Shark!!!

great-white-shark

The Facts:

The Great White Shark is often referred to as either a white shark or “White Death”. These are the largest predatory fish in the world. They commonly grow up to be around 15 feet in length, but some have reached lengths of 20+ feet. They can weigh around 5,000 pounds. The top half of their body is a dark slate-grey color that allows them to blend in with the sea floor if you’re looking down into the water. However, they get their name from their completely white bellies, which helps them blend even more to their surroundings if you’re looking up.  Much like the mako shark in its resemblance to a tuna fish, the great white shark also has a body type and tail shape similar to that of a tuna’s. This explains why they’re powerful swimmers.

These sharks often prey on sea lions, seals, small-toothed whales, turtles, and carrion. Their sheer mass and speed allow them to even breach out of the water, which looks like this:

Great_White_Shark_Breaching_Wallpaper_0739m

They can propel themselves through the water at speeds of up to 15 mph. I don’t know about you, but having a 5,000 lb. animal swimming towards me at that rate would definitely not be a good day.

Cool Fact that I didn’t even know:

Scientists can calculate the age of a great white shark by counting the number of rings that shape its vertebrae, kind of like how you can tell the age of a tree by the number of rings on its trunk. From documentation and research, scientists have concluded that an average life span of a great white is about 30 years.

Great white sharks have triangular teeth measuring around 6cm each (wow!). They can have up to 300 serrated teeth in their mouth, but they’re constantly losing them. A great white shark can lose a thousand teeth in the course of its life. When biting, great whites only use 98 of their teeth (roughly). I’m not quite sure how the scientists figured that one out…

Why is the great white shark number 1?

This shark has a notoriously bad reputation. It’s nick-name is “White Death”. I don’t know how much worse it can get for the shark. This species is by far the most feared of all the other species. When people think of sharks I can guarantee that they initially think of a great white shark.

But, most people don’t understand them. Out of all the shark species, great whites are the most misunderstood. I know that sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s true. There is not enough information known about these sharks. For example, their actual population number in the world. This shark species is one of the most elusive…as well as one of the most hunted. Great white sharks are officially on the endangered list. A big part of that has to do with the movie Jaws. Jaws turned the image of great whites into monsters and then people hated them and wanted to get rid of them.

These sharks need saving. Their beautiful, massive, fearsome, and yet mysterious. Losing this creature would be a sore loss for the marine ecosystem. There’s so much we still don’t know about them. And that’s why they’re my favorite. People are afraid of them, mainly, because they don’t understand them. There’s something about them that completely captivates me.

They will forever be my number one.

I hope you all liked my shark blog 🙂 I think it was more fun for me than it was for you guys to read about them… I know this is probably asking for too much, but what I would love for all of you to get out of this blog is that sharks are wonderful. They’re mysterious and interesting. The next time you turn on Shark Week, I hope you can look at the sharks in a different light.

 

 

My Future after Penn State

While I haven’t been thinking too much about  what I want to do after college yet, since I’m just trying to get through my Freshman year in one piece, there are a couple of things I would like to do in regards to a civic life.

One of the overall goals of my college career is to commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force. Being in the Air Force will automatically set me up to carry out civic acts. But, I’m not talking just about defending the country and its people. I see myself traveling around in Europe and utilizing my degree in Russian.

What does knowing Russian and the Air Force going to do for my civic life, you may ask?

Well, one of my dream’s is to help out with Eastern European orphanages. Coming from one, I know how scared and confused they are. My plan is to increase the awareness of these orphanages. Maybe even getting to the point where when I come home every now and then  I can tell friends, family, etc. about the children who need to be adopted. I originally came over on a medical visa, so I would want to help other children get those medical visas. This will open the doors for them to not only get better healthcare than the orphanages provide, but to have the chance of meeting a family who wants to adopt. The Air Force will give me the opportunities to travel and be stationed at bases in places like Prague, Czech Rep., Budapest, Hungry, or Moldova. These places do have some Russian-speaking areas, so that will be where my focus is.

I think helping children is one of the best ways to pursue a civic life, since, as the clique saying states, children are our future.

We’ll see how it all goes in about ten years down the road.

Top Ten Shark Countdown #2

I first have to make an apology to my fellow avid shark lovers. Due to a time constraint, I unfortunately will have to skip shark #3 on the countdown. Shark #3 was the whale shark. Because it’s the biggest fish in ocean, I regret not being able to tell you guys more about the whale shark. I decided to skip the whale shark because it is another carpet shark on the countdown. It shares various similarities with the zebra shark already mentioned on the countdown. If you guys are truly interested in my blog, please go to National Geographic’s website, look up for the whale shark, and give them some love.

Life goes on though so…Who is the Shark of the Week!?!?!?

The Tiger Shark!!!

tiger-shark-owen-bell

The Facts:

This is the fourth largest shark species. The tiger shark can grow up to be between 14-20 feet and weigh more than 1,900 pounds. These sharks have serrated teeth and powerful jaws that allow them to crack the shells of sea turtles, one of their favorite foods. Interestingly, these sharks  are fondly referred to as the “wastebaskets of the ocean”. Why? Well, these sharks will eat just about anything. In the stomach of tiger sharks you can most likely find sea turtles, stingrays, sea snakes, sea birds, squids, seals, and even license plates and old tires.

Tiger sharks are considered to be scavengers who are not in the least bit picky of what they eat. This combined with the fact that they can be found in tropical and sub-tropical waters makes them extremely dangerous to humans. Tiger sharks are known to be one of the top three shark species who attack humans the most. If you see one in the water and you’re not in a shark cage, get out.

One of the most unique features of the tiger shark is their stripes, which is where they got their name. Strangely, their dark, vertical stripes are the most bold on juveniles. As they grow older their stripes get fainter and fainter until they just about disappear. Each tiger shark’s stripes are different in regards to color, design, and size. The stripes help them to camouflage themselves when they go out hunting at night.

Why did the tiger shark make #2 on the countdown?

Many years ago, I watched a documentary on tiger sharks during Shark Week. In this particular documentary, a diver went to free dive (no shark cage) with tiger sharks. I initially thought something was going to go wrong; one man swimming with at least two tiger sharks equaled a disaster. Surprisingly though, he was perfectly fine. And even shockingly, he made this weird, rare connection with one of the tiger sharks. He explained this connection as a feeling akin to what you would feel with a dog. He ended up naming this tiger shark Dolores and the shark even let him ride on her dorsal fin, like what dolphins do. Whenever he would go back to dive in that particular part of the ocean Dolores would recognize him and they would swim the afternoon away together. Crazy, right? To me, this was unarguable proof that even the so called “man-eaters” weren’t all that horrible and dangerous as the media would like us to believe.

This is for you Dolores. Congratulations on being #2 on the Top Ten Shark Countdown!

 

I Advocate for Animals

In this week’s RCL post we have to elaborate on an idea for our advocacy campaign. To explore this idea, we have to look at the audience we want to target and the media format we will use to get our idea across to that audience.

The reoccurring example of my issue brief and, consequently, my advocacy campaign is the SeaWorld’s bull killer whale Tilikum. From the time he was born in 1981 to the present. Tilikum has been in captivity. He is actually the biggest killer whale to ever be held captive. As a result, he has been a main attraction his whole life. Before he killed Dawn Brancheau in 2010, Tilikum was one of the favorites among the SeaWorld trainers. The general public enjoyed him just as much.

When a person thinks of SeaWorld they are most likely thinking about the orcas and dolphins. This is the reason why my advocacy campaign will be directed to an audience that consists of marine park visitors. The visitors at SeaWorld are shown an exciting display of tricks performed by killer whales, dolphins, sea lions, etc. What they don’t see, however, is what life is like for the animals after the shows. Unlike the executives of companies like SeaWorld, the visitors aren’t biased when it comes to the welfare of the animals. The companies want to make money so they do whatever they can with the animals to keep making money. The visitors come to SeaWorld because they’re interested and excited to see a killer whale in person. The only way a policy against animal captivity can be advocated is through the general public who visit the marine parks. Their money is what fuels the parks and, as a result, the mistreatment of the animals.

I believe the best way to advocate for the animals is through a TED Talk. With a TED Talk, you can incorporate pictures, videos, and short, powerful sayings. In this particular advocacy campaign, the pictures say a thousand words. Through the use of a TED Talk, I’ll be able to show the audience, the marine park visitors, everything that SeaWorld doesn’t show them. I can give them the facts while they can see them for themselves.

 

Top Ten Shark Countdown #4

Who is the Shark of the Week!?!?!?

The Mako Shark!!!!

sharks_shortfin_mako_shark

The Facts:

The mako shark can grow up to be between 6 and 9 feet long, but there has been a few instances where they could grow up to 12 feet long. Compared to the other sharks on the countdown, this is probably the smallest, or one of the smallest, sharks on the Top Ten Countdown. Lengthwise, they are on the smaller side, but these sharks can weigh around 1000 pounds, which is heavy considering how long they are.

There are two types of mako sharks. There is the longfin and shortfin mako shark. The only difference between those two is that the longfin mako has larger eyes and pectoral fins. These sharks can be found virtually all over the world. They’re spotted in both shallow and deep waters and the temperature of the water doesn’t matter, they can live in cold or warm waters. Unlike some other shark species on the countdown, the mako shark is a solitary shark. It is rare if you see them with other makos. If you do see a mako in the water, be very careful. While they don’t “eat” people, they have been known to aggressively attack. These sharks are fearless and combined with the fact that they are thought to be the fastest shark out in the ocean (it’s been discovered that the salmon shark is actually the fastest, but unfortunately, the salmon shark just didn’t make the cut on the countdown) make them a top predator.

Fun Fact: The mako shark can reach speeds up to 60mph and on a regular basis they swim at 35mph.

Why did the mako shark make #4 on the countdown?

Look at the picture of the mako shark above and look at the tuna below.

expensive-tuna-fish

Notice how their tails are exactly alike. That’s not a coincidence.

What I find most interesting about the mako shark is it’s blatant example of adaptation. What do I mean by that? Well, the tuna fish is the main prey of a mako shark. As we all know, tuna fish are an extremely fast fish species. As a result, the mako shark, over time, adapted in order to seek out and catch this prey. That’s why their tails match that of a tuna’s and that’s why the mako shark can swim up to 60 mph.

When I think of this the phrase “you are what you eat” comes to mind.

Another reason why I love the mako shark is how extraordinarily beautiful they look. There’s something elegant and serene about their shape and appearance. These sharks are considered to be fearless and you can almost see that fearlessness in their face. Whenever I look at the mako shark, I have to first look at it’s tail to discern if it is indeed a mako shark because the shark bares resemblance to a great white shark. The mako kind of looks like a baby great white and I find that completely adorable.

Even though these sharks are considered shrimps to their bigger cousins, they make up for it in speed and attitude. The mako shark makes a statement.

My Writing Process

In this week’s RCL post, we have to elaborate on our writing process. Specifically, writing that’s directed towards assignments in school versus writing during free time.

The first part of my writing process involves the “where” component.

Generally, I need to be in a quiet place to start brainstorming ideas. I tend to get the best ideas in the shower or when I’m laying in bed at night. Any place that I know someone won’t bother me will work just as well. When I start writing, however, I find that being in a crowded place sometimes helps. There are times when I need to be around others in order to start writing. For instance, I enjoy going to the HUB to work on a couple of papers because the commotion acts as a catalyst for ideas.

The second part of my writing process is based on the “when”.

Coming to college, I found out that it’s impossible for me to write anything during the evening or late at night. All I focus on is how tired I am. To remedy this, I started waking up early in the mornings. What I realized is that my writing process is at its peak when I first wake up in the morning. Now, I go to bed at a decent hour and simply get up extra early in the morning.

The last part of my writing process incorporates how I actually write.

The first thing I do is grab a blank sheet of paper and start jotting down ideas. I’ll usually even write out my introduction by hand. This helps me form ideas so when I look at an empty computer screen I can start typing away. Writing first by hand decreases the chances of acquiring a writer’s block.

My writing process also varies. It’s never a standard process that I follow. Whenever I’m writing, I usually just fellow a method that works and gets the assignment completed.

Top Ten Shark Countdown #5

Who is the shark of the week?!?!?

The Megamouth Shark!!!

cryptid megamouth shark

The Facts:

Surprisingly, this shark species was discovered in only the past thirty years! The megamouth was first discovered in 1975 when a navy ship caught one in its anchor, but it wasn’t until 1983 that it was actually proven to exist (many people believed the military was bluffing in order to attract attention). What’s really neat is that only 54 have been seen and out of those 54 only 3 have been documented on film! These sharks have been spotted around Hawaii, Japan, and other places in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. It comes to no surprise that this shark species has been deemed one of the rarest. Any kind of documentation of these sharks can be worth a lot of money to researchers because these sharks are hardly ever seen in the wild. But, before you go trying to find a megamouth, since there is extremely limited information on how these sharks interact with others researchers do not know the behavior of this shark species towards humans. They could be docile or hostile, who knows.

Many of the facts “known” about the megamouth comes through speculation. What is known, however, is that they are filter feeders. Some of their favorite food sources are jellyfish and plankton. Their jaws and gills allow them to take a mouthful of water and everything in it and filter it by the grates near their gills.

Based on pictures and videos, megamouths are believed to be from 13 to 16 feet in length and weigh up to 2,700 pounds.

This shark species looks a bit odd. Their head is large and disproportionate to their body and they have a short snout. Obviously, these sharks are known for their huge mouth and are named after this interesting feature. They have two unequal sized dorsal fins and their tail has a long upper lobe. The megamouth has a fleshy appearance so up close it kind of looks like it has many wrinkles.

Why did the megamouth make the Top Ten Shark Countdown?

As all of you can probably tell, I love sharks. So it also comes to no surprise that I watch Shark Week. Every. Single. Year. Lately, though, I’ve been disappointed with the program’s episodes. Everything seems very repetitive and it’s hard for me to learn anything new. It wasn’t until last year’s Shark Week when my love for it was rekindled.

They aired a documentary on the elusive and mysterious megamouth. I was instantly intrigued because this shark not only looks freaky, but it’s almost newly discovered. One of the reasons why no body knows much about this shark species is because they reside more towards the bottom of the ocean. I think it’s interesting how no one thinks too much of the sea floor, but there are so many undiscovered species down there.

What’s an even more amazing fact I learned about the megamouth is that it’s mouth is reflective. The inside of it’s mouth has a silvery coloring and when the mouth is opened it becomes almost a beacon of light. I found out that this aids in attracting prey down in the depths.

I can’t wait to see what else scientists and researchers learn about this shark. A megamouth shark is odd-looking, big, mysterious, intriguing, rare, and it’s number five on the countdown of Top Ten Sharks!

Peta.

For the RCL post this week we’ve been assigned to pick an advocacy campaign and argue whether or not they use persuasion or propaganda.

The first advocacy campaign that came to mind was People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or more commonly known as Peta. For awhile now, there has been mixed feelings about this particular advocacy campaign. It cannot be refuted that this organization strives for an excellent goal: better treatment of animals.  However, looking at purely advertisements, this advocacy group has run into major resentment from the public and,now, are known for having atrocious ads.

Below are just a few of the most shocking advertisements endorsed by Peta:

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a-scantily-clad-pamela-anderson-starred-in-this-ad-which-was-banned-in-montreal-because-it-was-sexist

petas-got-autism-billboard-in-newark-was-pulled-by-the-ad-company-that-hosted-it-because-of-complaints

 

It can be seen from even these examples that Peta uses propaganda to sway the opinion of their audience rather than persuasion. Not only are many of these ads tactless, but many of them aren’t true to the facts, such as the “Got Autism?” ad which linked drinking milk to having autism. Peta’s advertisements continually use female body image to attract attention as well as  celebrity endorsers. The purpose of these ads is to grab the viewer’s attention, no matter in what way. While Peta is trying to send an ethical message to the public about the maltreatment of animals and gain support for their cause, their propaganda turns most away from the advocacy group. Many people disagree with their ads and find them highly offensive. Unfortunately, because of this, Peta has now become the butt of a few jokes and has even lost some support from the public. Their use of propaganda has affected their image in the public’s eye. For many people, when they think of Peta, they think of the organization’s bold propaganda rather than the good deeds they are trying to accomplish. Most of their ads are not reliable and, therefore, make the advocacy campaign unreliable.

Maybe if Peta used persuasion instead of propaganda they would have a much better reputation and many more supporters.

 

Advocacy and Persuasion Possibilities

For Unit 7, our major assignment is to argue for or against an existing policy, or come up with a new policy in regards to an area of interest.

The first idea I had in mind is more broad than the other two; shark conservation.

It’s no secret that millions of sharks are killed every year through poaching and commercial fishing. While the U.S. did pass a law in 2000 to try to combat the shark fishing, a stricter policy needs to be implemented because many sharks still get killed every year.

The second idea I had is still broad, but more related to the U.S.

By now, most, if not all, people have heard about the killer whale at Sea World who killed one of the trainers during the show. The media put the blame on either the trainer or the killer whale, Tilikum. What most people don’t know is who is actually to blame. A documentary named Blackfish revealed to the viewers who was to blame, Sea World. The documentary explored the history of Tilikum from when he was captured, to his home at the Sealand of the Pacific, and finally to his captivity in Sea World. Using this case as a centerpiece I want to advocate stronger policies on animal captivity, in regards to amusement parks like Sea World and Sealand of the Pacific.

The third idea I had is the most specific. One of Penn State’s policies is that first-year students must live on campus and, consequently, they have to purchase a meal plan. The area of focus for my third idea is the purchase of a meal plan. My idea is that Penn State should allow students to choose whether or not they purchase a meal plan and if they choose not to do so, then there will be a kitchen available to them. This idea stems from two of my roommates being vegan and having hardly any options at the dining commons. They end up eating large amounts of unhealthy food because there is nothing else for them to eat. They would benefit by not purchasing a meal plan and, instead, having a kitchen to cook their own meals.

As of now, I’m leaning more towards my second idea.

Top Ten Shark Countdown- #6

Who is the Shark of the Week???

The Zebra shark!!!

128068-Zebra Shark (adult)-Stegostoma varium

The Facts:

Zebra sharks are part of the order called Carpetsharks, which are named so because of the elaborate pattens on their skin. This particular species of Carpetsharks can grow up to be around twelve feet long. Like the Thresher shark, the tail of a Zebra shark is almost as long as it’s body. Carpetsharks share several features: two spineless dorsal fins (you can see this clearly in the picture above), mouths in front of their eyes, and barbels (sensory attachments) that extend from their nostrils or jaws.

Though the Zebra shark can grow up to be about 12 feet long in length, its flexible body allows it to squeeze into narrow crevices to find food. Speaking of food, these sharks eat reef mollusks, crustaceans, and other small fish.  They hunt primarily at night and rest on the sea bottom during the day. Like all bottom-dwelling sharks, the zebra shark can pump water over its gills and this allows it to “sit” on the bottom of the ocean. These sharks are found around reefs close to shore in the western Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea.

These sharks are absolutely no threat to humans.

Interesting Fact: Zebra sharks are in the same order as the Whale shark, a gentle giant.

On a sad note, the Zebra shark is not considered to be threatened or endangered, but they are regularly taken in by inshore fisheries. Their population could start declining at any moment and then they will be on the endangered list. For the sake of how docile and lovable these sharks are we need to help them now before it gets to the point where there is a possibility of them going extinct. There has never been a case where a Zebra shark has harmed any humans and, yet, many of them are being killed by fisheries.

Why did the Zebra Shark make the Top Ten Countdown??

I chose this shark as number six on the countdown because of how interesting it is to look at. When Zebra sharks are pups their bodies are dark with yellowish stripes, thus coining the name “zebra”. As they grow up, however, these juveniles lose their stripes and in their place forms dark spots on a grayish-tan background. These sharks often get misidentified as leopard sharks (I find this a bit ironic…). This fact alone makes the Zebra shark interesting because there are a few animals in the world who make this kind of transformation in their lifetime. At least in the shark world, the only shark I know of who changes patterns on their skin is the Zebra shark.

Also, out of all sharks species, the Zebra shark’s face is perhaps the most heart-warming. The shark honestly looks like it’s smiling at you. Some people may judge me for saying this, but the Zebra shark is one of the most adorable sharks out there. Not only are these sharks harmless, but they are some of the most visually appealing sharks out there. You go cuties!