10 Fearsome Facts You Need To Know for Shark Week

Jacques Costeau’s grandson Philippe, host of ‘Nuclear Sharks,’ gives the lowdown on everyone’s favorite killer.

Alastair Pollock Photography/Getty

Discovery‘s “Shark Week” is officially underway. It’s that magical time of year when the basic cable network goes all in on ensuring anyone viewing their primetime lineup hits the beach terrified of going into the ocean. And the thing is, Discovery makes it fun, with original programming like Nuclear Sharks

Nuclear Sharks follows Philippe Cousteau—grandson of legendary explorer and documentarian Jacques-Yves Cousteau—and his wife and fellow environmental activist Ashlan Cousteau on a fascinating journey to the Bikini Atoll. 

There the Cousteaus and marine biologist Luke Tipple study a part of the ocean that was devastated by nuclear weapons tests during the Cold War—and they tackle a deep-sea mystery. In the years since the tests, how have the waters in the area become home to non-migratory reef sharks? 

Philippe and Ashlan Cousteau believe knowledge is power when it comes to sharks and have provided Maxim with ten tidbits about these fearsome predators.

1. Taking selfies is twice as dangerous as shark attacks 
12 people died in 2015 from selfie related incidents, while only 6 people died from shark encounters world-wide. More people also die from mosquito bites, vending machines and, yep, falling coconuts.

2. Shark sex is extremely rough
Because there is nothing to hang onto, when the male shark senses a female is ovulating they approach, and if she can’t fight them off they will bite her (usually her fins) and dig in. Then they contort around and mate. The resulting wounds can be deep and leave nasty scarring.

3. No one knows exactly where Great Whites mate  
Like many shark species, scientists know little about the mating and birthing cycle of Great Whites—but hey, don’t they deserve a little privacy?

4. The dwarf lantern shark is the tiniest shark ever
It maxes out at 8.4 inches in length, which makes it smaller than a human hand. Rarely seen, this tiny shark at a depth of about 1,000 feet.

5. The largest shark—and thus fish—is the Whale Shark  The biggest confirmed specimen was over 40 feet long. Don’t worry though, they are filter feeders and are not dangerous to humans.

6. Sharks have the same five senses that we do 
Taste, touch, sight and sound—but their noses are really impressive. They can detect one drop of blood in a million drops of water, up to a quarter-mile away.

7. They have two extra-freaky senses humans don’t
They can sense electrical impulses through pores all over their nose and head called Ampullae of Lorenzini. They can detect tiny differences in pressure through another series of pores called the lateral line that runs down the side of their body to their tail.

8. Bull Sharks have the strongest bite 
But at 478 pounds per square inch, that pales in comparison to salt water crocodiles, which that bite down with 3,700 pounds per square inch. Humans. meanwhile. bite with a measly 150-200 pounds per square inch.

9. Jaws was (loosely) based on a true story
Peter Benchley’s novel—and, of course, Steven Spielberg’s movie based on the novel—was inspired by a series of shark attacks that happened in the early 1900s. Strangely these attacks occurred in rivers, not the ocean. That means the culprit was a Bull Shark and not a Great White, since bulls are the only ones that can tolerate fresh water. In fact, Peter Benchley regretted the film for the rest of his life because its finned antagonist set shark conservation back decades.

10. Sharks see their prey in black and white
Research suggests they can’t see the normal spectrum of colors—though their ability to smell blood in the water probably renders an ability to see red pointless anyway.

Discovery’s Shark Week runs through July 3. Nuclear Sharks premieres Thursday, June 30 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.