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Table of Contents
Enchanted Learning
All About Sharks!

Geologic Time Chart
Introduction to Sharks Introduction to Rays Anatomy Shark and Ray Species Extreme Sharks Extinct Sharks Classification Shark Glossary Shark Index Printables, Worksheets, and Activities

SHARK ANATOMY
Tiger shark

SHARK GILLS

Sharks, like other fish, live in the water and use their gills to filter oxygen from the water. When water passes over the gills, a system of very fine blood vessels (capillaries) in the gills takes up (absorbs) oxygen from the water.

Sharks have 5-7 pairs of gill slits located on the sides of their heads. Unlike bony fish, they do not have gill covers. Water must continually flow across these slits in order for the shark to breathe. This can be accomplished by the shark's swimming, by it standing still in a current, or by it fanning water across the gills with its fins (this is done by the nurse shark).

Filter feeding sharks (like the whale sharkWhale shark, basking shark, and the megamouth shark) expel the filtered water through their gills.

SPIRACLES

Some sharks have spiracles, which are special gill slits located just behind the eyes. They supply oxygen directly to the eyes and brain of the shark. Bottom dwelling sharks like the angelsharks use this extra respiratory organ to breathe while at rest on the sea floor. It is also used for respiration when the shark's mouth is used for eating.

Tiger sharksTiger shark have been found "sleeping" in sea caves in the Gulf of Mexico, completely stationary for long periods of time.





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