Are sharks ectothermic?

Question:

Are sharks ectothermic?

Ectotherms:

An ectothermic creature is one that does not have the ability to significantly modify its own body temperature. Sometimes known as cold-blooded animals, these creatures have very efficient metabolisms but must rely on external heat sources to maintain body temperature.

Answer and Explanation:

Most species of sharks are ectothermic. This is common among most marine animals because water is very consistent in terms of temperature, so the shark's body nearly always matches the temperature of the water surrounding it. If they need to warm up, they swim into warmer water and if they need to cool down they swim into cooler water. This lets sharks express a great degree of control over their metabolism.

Interestingly, there are five species of sharks that actually have some ability to control their body temperature, almost like endotherms (warm-blooded animals). The white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), salmon shark (Lamna ditropsis), porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus), shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) and longfin mako (Isurus paucus) can all warm their bodies slightly above the water temperature.


Learn more about this topic:

Ectotherms: Definition & Examples

from High School Biology: Homework Help Resource

Chapter 30 / Lesson 13
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