Do not worry you will not come across a Great White waltzing down the streets of New York looking to gobble up a commuter for breakfast!
But if you are ever in the shallow coral reefs of Australia then you may be lucky enough to see the miraculous abilities of the epaulette shark. They are a miniature shark and only grow up to about 1 meter but they have been able to figure out what no other shark has: they can walk!
Due to living in a very shallow environment the epaulette shark can sometimes fall prey to the tides of the ocean, getting stuck on a reef and stranded out in the sun. When a shark is stuck on dry land the results can be catastrophic. Not only could it become the next option on the menu for your for a family barbecue, due to that strong Australian sun. Well, the epaulette shark could also suffocate, as they cannot breathe outside of the water.
Do not fear though, other the centuries of living in these shallow areas the epaulette shark has adapted to its surroundings. Ensuring that it has the abilities needed to survive when caught out in the sun – without any sun cream! Amazing, the shark has the ability to slow down his whole metabolism. This means that the shark’s breathing is slowed, the heart rate goes down and even their brain is shut down! This slowing of the metabolism allows the epaulette to survive an hour on the last gasp of oxygen from the residing water.
The epaulette shark then uses his fins to walk! You see over the years, his fins have evolved to allow more movement than generally seen on sharks. This allows for a crawling army like maneuver across the corals back into the water.
This species really is evidence of how well animals do adapt to their surroundings and form special traits just to survive no matter what mother nature throws at them. For example, the epaulette is only able to hunt these shallow coral areas because of its ability to slow down its oxygen intact. Other sharks would die in these low oxygen environments. Still, lets hope no other sharks ever figure out how to walk!