March Madness is everywhere, even in the ocean. When science gets in the game, there’s plenty of fun to be had for those of us who don’t watch college basketball. Brackets and hashtags abound on social media. One I’m following this year is Shark Madness. Thirty-two shark species face off for the title of Best Shark 2022!

The nonprofit Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS) hosts Shark Madness. Founded by four women of color, MISS provides free workshops, summer camps, and fellowships. The goal is to level the playing field for people historically excluded from the field. And also highlight the many women of color succeeding in and interested in shark sciences.

Each day, a short video shares fun facts about the two species going head to head. Winners of the polls on the MISS Twitter and Instagram pages are tallied move on to the next round. People who filled out brackets are also competing for prizes. As with basketball, some choose with their heart instead of their head and many brackets are already busted.

a sandbar shark swimming
Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk

Did you know there’s something called a lollypop cat shark? For having such a cute name, it’s actually a weird looking little shark. Even the MISS member hyping up the matchup had never seen the shark before and couldn’t contain their laughter. Maybe that’s why it lost in the first round.

Another shark with a cute name is the cookie cutter shark. But its teeth are actually nightmare fuel. They get their name because they take chunks out of prey like a cookie cutter. Oh yeah, and they also glow in the dark! So does the swell shark, which swells up its body to avoid getting eaten. I always thought they lived in the ocean swells.  

Other amazing sharks include spinner sharks which, like spinner dolphins, can jump up to 20 feet out of the water. It’s up against the saw shark which, as you may have guessed, has a saw-like nose. And whiskers! The Greenland shark is also still in the running. They are the longest-living vertebrate on Earth at over 400 years. Most of them are blind because of a parasite that lives on their eyes. 

Last year’s Shark Madness winner, the thresher shark, is still in the game. Will there be a repeat or is there a new shark that will take the prize? I know they can’t include all of the over 500 shark species, the brackets would take too long. But there’s so many more cool facts to learn!