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Shark Terminology



Here are some definitions to terms you may come across when learning about sharks. I've tried to cover the basics, but if a term is not listed here and you think it should be, please feel free to contact me via the contact page

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Terms Menu :: Terms 1 A-D :: Terms 2 E-L :: Terms 3 M-Z ::

Ampullae of Lorenzini:
These are small jelly-filled areas beneath the skin on the nose of the shark (similar to pours) that are sensitive to electrical discharges. They help the shark in it’s effort to find pray, as all living things give off various degrees of electrical fields. It is especially helpful when searching for prey in murky or dark waters.
They often appear to be black "spots" across the nose and facial area of the shark.

This is an elastic type tissue found in animals. It’s usually found in the joints, but shark’s skeletons are composed strictly of cartilage and no bone. Cartilage is what makes up your nose and ears!

This refers to any species whose structure is based on cartilage and not bone.

A male shark’s pair of reproductive organs that protrude between the pelvic fins.

The opening found between the pelvic fins of shark which provides an excretory function for elimination. In a female shark it is also a reproductive opening for introduction of sperm by the male shark's claspers.

Dermal Denticles:
Most fish have scales that cover their bodies. Sharks, however, have dermal denticles. These are tiny tooth-like structures that cover their body from nose to tail, making the shark feel like it is covered with rough sandpaper. Each dermal denticle is structured like a tooth containing pulp and nerves. (See: Dermal Denticles in the Shark School)

Dorsal Fin:
The first fin on the back of the shark. It is what most people think of when they hear the word “Shark” as it is the fin that normally breaches the water when the shark is near the water’s surface. Many sharks also have a second dorsal fin, towards the tail, also found on it’s back. The dorsal fin is usually much larger than the second dorsal fin.


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