The Shark Hall of Fame

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

The biggest, smallest, scariest, coolest . . .

by Holly Hartman


Great White (Carcharodon carcharias)
Made famous by the movie Jaws, the great white shark has become a figure of legend—and nightmare. A great white has about 3,000 razor-sharp teeth in its mighty jaws. It can grow to 20 feet long and weigh 7,000 pounds. The great white is the only shark that will put its head out of the water to look around, perhaps for the seals and sea lions it eats.


Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)
This shark earned its name not just for its stunning size—it can grow 50 feet long—but because its dark body is sprinkled with white spots, like certain whales. The whale shark is the largest fish in the sea. But it's a gentle giant. Its teeth are no bigger than human baby teeth, and it eats only small fish and plankton.

Strangest Head

Hammerhead (Sphyrina zygaena)
Hammerhead SharkThe hammerhead may have the oddest head in the ocean—wide and flat, for lift that may aid swimming, with eyes at each end for keen vision. It may also use its odd-shaped head to hold down its prey. An excellent predator, the hammerhead will eat almost anything—fish, squid, even other hammerheads! The average hammerhead is about 12 feet long.


Dwarf Dogshark (Etmopterus perryi)
Discovered in 1985, the dwarf dogshark is believed to grow to no more than six to seven inches long. This smallest of all sharks is of a type that is known as the dogshark because it lives and hunts in packs, like dogs do. With power in numbers, and a pointy little head full of pointy little teeth, the dwarf dogfish may be a tiny terror of the great deep.

Coolest Tail

Thresher (Alopias vulpinus)
Thresher SharkAbout half of the thresher shark's 20-foot-long body is its mighty tail. It is believed that the thresher uses its whiplike tail to stun prey or sweep schools of fish closer to its mouth. Although the thresher is not considered dangerous to humans, its powerful tail has injured swimmers and knocked over people who were standing near schools of fish.


Tasseled Wobbegong (Eucrossorhinus dasypogon)
A tasseled wobbegong has a stunning variety of spots, bands, and other markings that help it hide among the coral reefs it calls home. But most striking is the shaggy-looking fringe of skin that flaps all around its broad mouth. The tasseled wobbie is of a type known as the "carpet shark" because of its low, flat shape. It grows to about eight feet long.

Most Leisurely

Basking (Cetorhinus maximus)
Basking SharkWhere plankton is thick in the water, the 40-foot-long basking shark swims along with its giant mouth held wide open. It usually travels in groups and may rest on the ocean floor when not on a quest for plankton. Basking sharks are slow movers in a number of ways—pregnancy for this kind of shark is thought to last for three and a half years.

Most Un-shark-like

Angel (Squatina californica)
With its flat, fluttery body, the angel shark looks like a giant ray. It hides in the sand of the ocean floor, with little more than its eyes exposed. Mottled markings offer good camouflage. The angel shark doesn't swim very fast; mostly, it lies around waiting for even slower-moving prey to swim by. An angel shark grows to five or six feet long.

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