Discovery Channel's Shark Week begins with heavy bite

9 facts about sharks you probably didn't know

By Mary Claire Patton - Digital Content Curator

Just when you thought it was safe to turn on your television, Shark Week, the annual Discovery Channel tradition devoted to all things sharks, is back.

Sharks get a bad rap, and protecting them by educating the public is a big part of Shark Week's programming.

There are more than 375 species of shark. Some species date back to 400 million years ago.

Overfishing is causing a decline in shark populations, and shark species are being continually added to the list of endangered/threatened animals.

Approximately 100 million sharks are killed each year for their fins, according to Savingsharks.com. The website also reported that it takes hours, sometimes days, for sharks to die after being finned. 

Sharks are vitally important to the ecosystem and their fins are one of the most valuable seafood products, sometimes fetching up to $20,000 for a single trophy fin.

Sharks help keep the food chains in balance by preying on sick and weakened fish, sometimes scavenging the sea floor for dead carcasses. This prevents the spread of disease among fish populations and helps strengthen the populations of certain species.

Catch Shark Week on the Discovery Channel this week and watch free Shark Week content here.

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