Gorgeous Pictures of Sharks, Predators of the Sea

From angelsharks to zebra sharks, a tour of fantastic fishes from around the globe.

There are over 465 known species of sharks, ranging from the planet's largest fish—the whale shark—to the palm-size dwarf lanternshark. These misunderstood predators not only fascinate us, but surprise us with their beauty and vulnerability. Due to overfishing and discriminatory killing, among other causes, at least a quarter of sharks and rays may be headed for extinction, according to a 2014 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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"For the artist within me, sharks represent an endless well of inspiration, a blend of grace and power that lures me into the sea," National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry wrote of his more than 10,000 hours spend photographing sharks.

"As a journalist, I'm driven by a sense of responsibility and a sense of the urgent need to broadcast that sharks are in trouble and need our help."

Here is a closer look at these charismatic creatures.