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Five Sharks to Know on National Shark Awareness Day

Explorer C



Today, Southwest is celebrating National Shark Awareness Day!  We have had waves of excitement with the debut of our larger-than-life Shark Week-themed aircraft.  With Shark Week airing on July 23, we’re taking some time to celebrate and appreciate the five shark species swimming through the skies with us!


Sharks and airplanes are actually more alike than one might think. Like the fuselage of an airplane, the part of the plane that carries all of our loyal Customers, most shark species have “fusiform” shaped bodies.  Sharks move forward through the water with their strong tails, kind of like propellers of a plane.  The water moves over their fins similar to how air moves over the wings of our airplanes!


Our Shark Week plane features five different shark species: the great white shark, sand shark, whale shark, great hammerhead, and the tiger shark. Like Southwest Airlines, all of these sharks have things about them that set them apart and make them special.  


Did you know:

The great white shark is the ocean’s fiercest predator. They have a very sensitive sense of smell and can detect their next meal from great distances. The longest recorded shark migration was completed by a great white shark that traveled 12,400 miles. A Southwest plane would have to fly across the United States more than four times!


The sand shark is also called the sand tiger shark, grey nurse shark or ragged tooth shark in various parts of the world. The “sand” part of their name comes from the shark being seen around shallow waters close to the shore. These sharks look treacherous, but unless provoked, these guys are pretty harmless!


The whale shark is considered the largest fish in the world. Whale sharks can measure more than 65 feet long and weigh more than 12.5 tons. Despite its massive size, the whale shark is the most docile shark and is harmless to humans. They mostly feed on plankton and other small animals.


The great hammerhead shark is most recognizable by their uniquely shaped heads. Because of this hammer-like shape, it is believed that hammerhead sharks have a 360° vision, giving them a great advantage as hunters. Hammerhead sharks are also known for traveling in schools of up to 500 members, which is very rare behavior for sharks.


And lastly, the zebra shark is also known as the leopard shark, because as they get older, they begin to develop small spots. The smallest of our five flying fish, zebra sharks are bottom dwellers, or “carpet fish,” because they hunt and rest along the bottom of the ocean floor.


These are only five of the more than 470 shark species that live in our oceans.  While they have gotten a false reputation as dangerous man-eaters, these animals are vital to the balance and well-being of our oceans! To learn more about sharks and the great shark-inspired shows you can look forward to during Shark Week, visit,