The Ever-Sleeping Shark
The ever-sleeping shark, Carcharhinus dormansis, is closely related to the Galapagos shark, and only found in the waters of the Galapagos Islands. It is a relatively small species of shark, and feeds mainly on small fish and mollusks. However, the truly distinctive feature of the ever-sleeping shark is the way it “hunts”.
The ever-sleeping shark does not hunt. Instead, it sleeps. As all sharks, the ever-sleeping shark needs to keep moving in order to make water flow through its gills, since, unlike most fish, it cannot pump the water through muscular action. Its ancestors, whenever they wanted to take a break, would chose a place with a strong current. Thus facing the current, they only needed to stay still, and the water would flow through their gills on its own. The ever-sleeping shark has expanded on this principle, and uses it to feed, too.
As the Galapagos archipelago abounds in tricky shorelines with complicated currents, it is the ideal habitat for the ever-sleeping shark. All the shark needs to do is find a good spot, with a strong current and narrow enough so that it can fill it up from rock to rock. Once it is fixed in to place, it simply keeps its mouth open and goes to sleep, waiting for prey to float in. Twice a day it has to reposition itself to adapt to the tide. Other than that, the ever-sleeping shark barely moves.
Only once every two years do the ever-sleeping sharks leave their “bed” for the mating season, which lasts about two weeks. During that time, all the sharks release a strong hormone into the water, and the mating frenzy begins. Jack Requin, of the Galapagos Center for Non-Existing Research (GSNR), who has written the most comprehensive study of the animal yet (“Putain de bordel, regards-moi ces trucs!”, 2006, éd. Gallipain), says that the mating sharks look as if they are trying to squeeze a whole two years of activity into those two weeks. The death toll can rise up to 20% of the entire population.
Due to its inconspicuous nature, the ever-sleeping shark has only been discovered during the second half of the XXth century. However, since then, it has gathered a cult following in the occident, and it is not rare to see people advertising “the way of the shark”.
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