Shark Week

Lots of people are frightened of sharks. That makes some sense if you think all sharks are relentless man-eating teeth-machines, but in reality the vast majority of them are much more scared of us, or they should be. There are over 350 species of sharks around the world, but they don't all get to grab the headlines or star in feature film franchises. So in honour of Shark Week, and to show you how daft it is to be irrationally fearful of some of these critters, here's a quick guide to the silliest-named sharks in our oceans.

First up, have to be the Wobbegongs. These bottom-dwelling sharks often end up as the fish in Australian fish and chips, and they characteristically have strongly-patterned bodies and weird wobbly knobbly tassels. That makes them look a bit beardy-weirdy. But I'm sure you’ll agree that it's hard to be too fearful of a Tassled wobbegong, or the ferocious sounding Floral-banded wobbegong.

Keeping up with the bottom dwelling sharks, next up is the demonic sounding Ginger carpetshark. Carpetsharks are so-called because they have patterns that, er, look like carpets. It's a bit busy for me, but I guess people have different tastes.

Catsharks are a whole subfamily of shark species; presumably they are called kittensharks when they are little. Ramping up the ridiculous then is the dodgily-titled Flaccid catshark (someone thought long and hard about that name) and its cousin the Lollipop catshark (I'm not making this up, honestly!).

Then there are lanternsharks, some of the tiniest of all sharks, which glow in the dark. Not to be outdone they have some fine names too, like the Splendid lanternshark, who sounds like a jolly nice chap.

Cookiecutter sharks are a bit more ferocious, biting chunks out of unsuspecting prey, rather than baking biscuits, whilst the Hidden angelshark lurks in the sand to pounce on passers-by.

In the Hammerhead family there is the Scoophead (handy for ice cream) and the Scalloped bonnethead (handy for period dramas).

The Porbeagle confusingly is not a cross between a porpoise and a beagle, but a cousin to the Great White. And the Gummy shark confusingly does have teeth, but arguably sounds more like a confectionary creation.

And the Slender weasel shark and Flapnose houndshark really need a rebrand.

My own particular favourite though, dredged up in my trawl of shark species, is the bizarrely titled Sulu gollumshark, a name that honours both Star Trek and Lord of the Rings: Oh my, it’s precious! It also generates a very geeky image of whoever dreamed up the name.

So sharks don't just deserve our fear and loathing, they also need to be loved and understood.  They generally have much more to fear from us than we do from them. Along with the many other despicable things we do to the world's shark species, we don't have to give them embarrassingly-stupid names.

Willie Mackenzie is an Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace UK.