Tuesday, August 14, 2012

He's Got Lifeless Eyes... Black Eyes

Whale Shark

White Shark

Grey Reef Shark

Lemon Shark

Hammerhead Shark

So I started off this blog with some pictures of shark eyes. Something that has been bugging me as of late is the fact that so many people believe what the title of this blog says. That sharks have lifeless black eyes. This blog isn't going to be so much about conservation as much as it is about realizing something about these creatures. If you have a dog, cat, lizard, rabbit, turtle, rat, fish, whatever take a good look at it's eyes. Eyes that look full of life. Look again at the eyes of these sharks. Do they look lifeless? Do they look like the eyes of a monster? Shark eyes are so far from lifeless that calling them lifeless is like saying your dog or cat's eyes have no life in them. Take a good look at the eye of the white shark (AKA: the Great White Shark). Notice that the eye is not just black. There is a dark blue pupil within. Take a look at the eyes of the grey reef, lemon, whale, and hammerhead sharks. Notice that around their pupils are some brilliant colors. Not only are the colors of the eyes of these animals beautiful... They can see in color! Cones and rods are both present in the eyes of many sharks, just like in our very own eyes.

Many sharks have a special adaptation when it comes to protecting their eyes. They have a nictating membrane that allows covers the eye of the shark, preventing anything from getting caught in them. Other species of shark, like the white shark are able to roll their eyes into the back of their head to prevent damage while feeding. Much like our very own eyes, the pupils of sharks are actually able to dilate and shrink! Just like our eyes, when light goes into the eye, the pupil shrinks. When it gets dark the pupil gets bigger. 

The moral of this blog is that sharks are far more than meets the eye. These animals are incredibly complex and there is still so much that we do not know about them. The days of sharks being being called lifeless monsters really needs to come to an end. Most people will never see a shark in their entire lives. The vast majority know what a shark is from television and literature. They hear that these animals are basically mindless robots with one goal, eating. Until you see a shark in real life, it is easy to believe what you hear and see in the media. These photos are the closest thing to seeing a real shark eye up close as you can get. Still though, it does not compare to the amount of life that you will see if you ever get the privileged opportunity to see a shark close up.

 Sharks are so vital to the health of the Oceans that the loss of them will be the loss of us all. Major problems that these animals face include finning and long line fishing. Both lead to overfishing. Overfishing leads to extinction. Extinction leads to the end of the Ocean. The end of the Ocean leads to the end of life on land. Humans know so little about these creatures, yet they have existed since the time of the dinosaurs. It is not their time to go extinct, but unless more is done to protect them, the Earth is in grave danger of losing some of it's oldest and most important residents.   

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