Monday, August 5, 2013

Shark Week Blog Number 1: Mega Mystery

Ok everyone. Originally I was going to do a Shark Week Review at the end of the week, but I figured I'd pick a few shows to review. What does this have to do with conservation you ask? Don't forget that the media does play a substantial role in why so many people are afraid of sharks. So even though these blogs won't exactly be focusing on 100% real issues, they, just like any other sci-fi show can affect people. So without further delay. Here is what I thought about a pretty interesting show entitled Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives.

I want to start off by saying that this show reminded me of a documentry with a sci-fi/horror twist. The interviews in some cases were mildly creepy I thought complete with some eerie music and a black and blurred background. Anyway the show itself brought up an interesting question. Does the ancient fish known as the megalodon exist today? For those of ou who did not catch the show and have no idea what a megalodon is I'll briefly explain it to you. While we have no skeletons of the ancient fish known as the megalodon, scientists believe that the animal grew to be over 65 feet in length. That is more than 20 feet longer than the current largest fish in the world, the whale shark. The jaws of this animal, needles to say were also quite massive as fossilized megalodon teeth have been found, some being about the size of an adult human hand or bigger! This predator would have been able to eat pretty much anything it wanted to including whales. Chances are, outside of other megalodons, the megalodon had no real predators. Getting back to the show.

The whole show was based off a mysterious sinking of a boat off of South Africa, one of the world's great white hotspots. Apparently whales had also been washing up on shore with massive bites taken out of them around the same time that this boat sunk. Personally I don't think these bites were from the ancient fish. In South Africa, and other parts of the world, great white sharks have been known to dine on large whale bodies together. There is evidence of this in several other Shark Week programs where video is actually taken of the sharks doing this in groups. To me, the photos that the show displayed claiming to be megalodon bites looked a bit photo shopped, but I could be wrong. If that's the case, then I believe that those bites were probably from a group of white sharks doing what they do best. Either way, I feel that if megalodon was really near South Africa, somebody would have by now gotten some kind of actual picture of the creature or at the very least a credible camera would be able to pick up on it. Now for the ultimate question... Is megalodon still alive?

It's really a loaded question. From time to time animals show up that we thought went extinct long ago. The Colecanth and Giant Squid are two examples of animals that for a long time people believed to not exist anymore. Strangley enough both of these animals and another known as the megamouth shark all inhabit the same area of the sea, the deep Ocean. If and that's a big if megalodon still exists today then in my opinion, that is where he would be. In the deep Ocean. I do not think it would be the same megalodon that inhabited the Earth millions of years ago, but one that has adapted more to life in the deep Ocean. If you think about it, millions of years ago, megalodon would have been eating large fish and even dinosaurs and the first whales. Well below the surface we know that there are large animals. There are large sharks, squids, whales, and various other giants that would probably make a real meal for megalodon. Personally I am not looking much into megalodon still existing today. As much as I would love to hear news someday that this creature still exists in the deepest parts of the Ocean, I just don't see it happening. Still though that's just another part of the mystery of the Ocean. In total we've only explored roughly 5% of the world's oceans so again, anything is possible.

As for Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives. I think it was a well thought out show that really brought back the question as to if megalodon still exists today. The way in which they go about doing it though I feel was a bit too sci-fi for what was I think supposed to be a convincing documentary? I'm not really sure what the show was going for, but again that very real question was flung back into the light. Sadly though if things keep going the way they are in the oceans, we will probably never know if megalodn still exists because even if it does now, it wont soon. The modern day sharks are being wiped off the face of the Earth and while this at this time wouldn't effect megalodon if it's alive, when the oceans fall apart and the oceanic climate goes through rapid and dangerous changes due to sharks being killed off, it certainly would.

Does megalodon exist? Perhaps it does. Perhaps it doesn't. There is no evidence saying it does, but then again, there is no evidence in my opinion that it doesn't largely thanks to humans only exploring about 5% of the oceans. I can say for sure though that if we as humans do not step up and save our oceans, the answer to the question will be a big fat NO along with any other species of fish, marine mammal, marine reptiles, aquatic birds, and just about any animal, including humans that live on land.

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