Surprising Sharks opens at Tring

11 February 2008

Surprising Sharks, a free exhibition with plenty of bite, opens at the Natural History Museum at Tring today.

If you thought all sharks were human-eating killers, this new exhibition should give you a big surprise.

The exhibition lets you discover the amazing variety of shark shapes and sizes and the tricks used by these fish that make them top predators. And find out why humans are more of a threat to sharks than they are to us.

'Sharks are captivating creatures with an undeserved bad reputation' said Paul Kitching, Museum Manager of the Natural History Museum at Tring. 'We hope this exhibition makes our visitors realise how incredible sharks are and that some prefer eating plankton to people.'

You can peer inside the jaws of a great white shark, marvel at the chocolate bar-sized spined pygmy shark and feel shark teeth and skin for yourself. There will be activities for the school holidays to accompany the exhibition including making shark sock puppets and masks.

Some surprising shark facts
  • Sharks cannot hover in the water like a goldfish. They must keep swimming forward to stop themselves from sinking.
  • Sharks were here when dinosaurs roamed the planet, over 450 million years ago.
  • There are more than 460 species of shark that live in all the world's seas and oceans.
  • There are approximately 21 types of shark that can be seen around the coast of Britain, and they range in size from the small-spotted catshark at 40cm to the 11-metre-long basking shark.
  • The largest shark is the whale shark, which has been spotted at over 12m long. That's about the length of one and a half London buses.
  • The smallest shark is the spined pygmy shark that grows to around 15cm long, the same size as a chocolate bar.
  • Sharks skins are covered in tiny teeth called denticles. This helps them swim more efficiently. Speedo worked with scientists at the Museum to develop a high performance swimsuit which copied this idea from sharks.

Surprising Sharks is based on the popular book by Nicola Davies and features illustrations by James Croft, and runs from 11 February - 6 July 2008.