2. Sharks affect shellfish-population counts, since many consume skates, rays, and other predators of scallops, crabs, lobsters, and more. When sharks decline, shellfish that many humans like to eat start to disappear, too.
3. Sharks rigged with cameras have provided important data on dangerous underwater sites, such as a Pacific Ocean nuclear-test site where sharks were deployed in 2003.
5. Shark fins and hammerhead shark noses have inspired high-tech adaptations to airline wings and jet bodies. The Langley Research Center has extensively studied sharks, along with whales and seagulls, for their potential design applications.
6. Certain sharks, such as the basking shark, are filter feeders that consume large quantities of zooplankton, such as copepods and krill. Some experts believe this helps to “clean” the water and may prevent red tide and other harmful algal blooms.
8. Sharks have the greatest electrical sensitivity of any creature on Earth. Since detection of magnetic fields can help with orientation and navigation, future research on shark electroreceptor organs may one day lead to better navigation systems in cars, planes, and ships.
9. Analysis of sharks, particularly the dogfish, has taught many researchers and students about fish biology.
11. Sharks and humans once shared a common ancestor, so our tissues are not all that dissimilar. Optometric researchers are investigating the shark cornea, which may one day be used for human transplants.
12. In 2005, Mercedes-Benz modeled a “bionic car” after a tropical fish called the boxfish and other fish, including sharks. Its streamlined shape made the car one of the most aerodynamically efficient vehicles for its size.
14. Many sharks are scavengers that consume dead and dying animals and plants. They help to rid the oceans of rotting carcasses and related waste materials.
15. Squalamine, a chemical extracted from dogfish, appears to kill bacterial microbes and removes potential tumor cells. This natural compound may one day be incorporated into treatments for human infections and disease.
17. Sharks possess remarkable senses that enable many species to see in near darkness, smell from long distances, feel distant vibrations and more. Analysis of these abilities may one day give humans similar abilities through devices modeled after shark senses.
18. Recent studies indicate that sharks are highly intelligent, with advanced problem-solving skills, social complexity, and a natural sense of curiosity. Using neuronal activity-detecting devices, scientists have developed rudimentary ways of reading animal thoughts and feelings. In the future, we may better understand ourselves by learning how other intelligent creatures view us.
20. Researchers are experimenting with a new boat-surface coating based on shark scales. Due to their base shape, size, and bristles, scales help to prevent algae and other things from sticking to sharks, a quality designers hope to impart to ships.