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Sizing Up Sharks,the Lords of the Sea

Sharks range in size from the largest fish on the planet to the length of your palm. See how you compare to some of these vulnerable predators that are so crucial to the ocean's health.

Scuba Diver
Whale Shark
(All teeth shown are magnified and in proportion to one another.)
Whale shark
Rhincodon typus
Body length: 32-55+ ft
Tooth height: 0.43 in
STATUS: Vulnerable

This slow-moving, filter-feeding shark is the largest known fish species alive.

Whale Shark
Great hammerhead shark
Sphyrna mokarran
Body length: 15-20 ft
Tooth height: 0.5 in
STATUS: Endangered

A wide head helps these sharks scan for and pin down rays and other prey.

Whale Shark
Great white shark
Carcharodon carcharias
Body length: 15-20 ft
Tooth height: 2.13 in
STATUS: Vulnerable

This legendary predator lives in coastal surface waters worldwide. Its serrated teeth may be a link to extinct ancestors.

Whale Shark
Greenland shark
Somniosus microcephalus
Body length: 16-21 ft
Tooth height: 0.4 in
STATUS: Near threatened

Scientists suspect that this slow-growing Arctic species can live up to a hundred years.

Whale Shark
Tiger shark
Galeocerdo cuvier
Body length: 14-18 ft
Tooth height: 0.9 in
STATUS: Near threatened

This shark is named for its distinct black stripes, which fade in adulthood.

Whale Shark
Bluntnose sixgill shark
Hexanchus griseus
Body length: 11-16 ft
Tooth height: 0.75 in
STATUS: Near threatened

Sharks typically have five gills, but this primitive species has six. Most related species are extinct.

Whale Shark
Oceanic whitetip shark
Carcharhinus longimanus
Body length: 9-13 ft
Tooth height: 0.63 in
STATUS: Vulnerable

Due to high demand for shark fin soup, these large-finned sharks are in decline.

Whale Shark
Angel shark
Squatina squatina
Body length: 4-6 ft
Tooth height: 0.3 in
STATUS: Critically endangered

With flat bodies and broad pectoral fins, angel sharks resemble rays and skates.

Whale Shark
Japanese sawshark
Pristiophorus japonicus
Body length: 3-5 ft
Tooth height: 0.3 in
STATUS: Insufficient data

Its long, toothy snout helps it sift sand for prey but can get snared in gill nets.

Whale Shark
Portuguese dogfish
Centroscymnus coelolepis
Body length: 3 ft
Tooth height: 0.2 in
STATUS: Near threatened

These bottom-feeders live in darkness, at depths greater than all other sharks.

Whale Shark
Horn shark
Heterodontus francisci
Body length: 2-4 ft
Tooth height: 0.16 in
STATUS: Insufficient data

This solitary shark uses its horned head to crack open mollusks and crustaceans.

Whale Shark
Dwarf lanternshark
Etmopterus perryi
Body length: 7-8 in
Tooth height: 0.09 in
STATUS: Insufficient data

Bioluminescent organs make these tiny sharks glow in the dark, attracting prey.

Whale Shark
Megalodon
Carcharocles megalodon
Body length: 45-60 ft
Tooth height: 5.7 in
STATUS: Extinct

A seven-inch fossil tooth of this extinct shark was used to project the scale of its massive body, which would have included jaws more than six feet wide.

FERNANDO G. BAPTISTA, DAISY CHUNG, RYAN T. WILLIAMS, CHIQUI ESTEBAN, AND JAIME HRITSIK, NG STAFF; FANNA GEBREYESUS

SOURCES: FAO; IUCN; GEORGE H. BURGESS, FLORIDA MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY; STEPHEN J. GODFREY, CALVERT MARINE MUSEUM; DEAN GRUBBS, FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY; GAVIN NAYLOR, COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON; NIGEL HUSSEY, UNIVERSITY OF WINDSOR

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