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The whale shark, which is the longest and heaviest of all sharks.

Sharks are fish. They live in every ocean of the world. Some also live in lakes. Sharks are predators: most of them eat fish and other animals in the ocean. When sharks are swimming on the surface of the water you can see their triangular fin. Sharks have existed for the last 400 million years, which is why they are one of the oldest still existing animals on the planet.

The dwarf shark is the smallest shark as it is just 25 centimeters long. The whale shark is the biggest shark, measuring up to 14 meters. The whale shark is also the heaviest shark: it can weigh up to 12 tons. That’s as much as 5 big cars. There are about 500 types of shark.

Sharks have a special jaw: behind their first row of teeth they have another one, so when they fight and one row gets knocked out they still have one more. Because of that they use up to 30,000 teeth in their life. The skin of a shark is not normal fish skin. Their skin is made out of the same material as their jaw. From the head to the back fin the skin feels very smooth. The other way it feels very rough.

How do sharks live?

Sharks aren't researched very well yet, so people don’t know much about them. However, one thing that is known about them is: Some sharks must always be moving so that they don't sink to the bottom of the ocean.

Most shark types feed on fish and other larger sea animals. But especially some larger shark types feed on plankton as well. Plankton are little animals or plants that let themselves be pushed by the currents.

Sharks also have enemies: smaller sharks are eaten by larger sharks, stingrays and seals. The biggest enemies of sharks remain humans. Mostly in Asia people eat shark meat as it is a delicacy. About five humans are killed by shark attacks per year.

How do sharks breed?

The reproduction of sharks takes a long time as they must be 30 years old to mate for the first time. Some shark types lay their eggs on the ocean floor and then keep on swimming. Some other shark types carry their babies in their wombs for up to two years. They have about five babies in their stomach and usually, they eat each other. Only the strongest one will be born. Most babies are eaten as eggs or babies. When baby sharks are born, they are up to half a meter long. Most shark types are threatened with extinction. This isn't only because of humans and other natural causes it is also because they need to be older to mate.