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Discovery - Racing Extinction

There's a reason why we're told to live every week like it's Shark Week.

GIF via “Step Brothers."


Sharks are simultaneously some of the most exhilarating and terrifying forces of nature on the planet.

They are glorious, majestic apex predators that affect entire ecosystems with their toothy, subaqueous badassery and demand our constant admiration and respect.

Hear me roar. All shark photos via iStock.

But they're also probably one of the most misunderstood species on the planet.

Thankfully, they're just one of many featured in "Racing Extinction" — a terrifyingly beautiful film that soon premieres on Discovery Channel. But before we get to that, let's explain why you should care about one of the many species showcased in that film — sharks!

Here are 10 facts that explain why we love sharks (and why you should if you don't).

1. Sharks promote bio-diversity.

'Sup everyone?

Apex predators like sharks actually increase the wildlife diversity of the ecosystems they live in by preying on the most available species, in turn preventing them from over-consuming the resources of a given area.

2. Sharks are fast. Like really, really fast.

Let's race.

Shortfin mako sharks are called the cheetahs of the sea. While they cruise around 20 mph, they've been observed notching speeds upward of 50 mph in a burst to nab prey. This video has one hitting 68 miles an hour before devouring a bluefish. Experts caution it's really difficult to accurately measure mako speeds, but still — it puts a whole new spin on "fast food," does it not?

3. Sharks are AMAZING listeners.

"Tell me more about growing up in the north tropical Atlantic."

A shark can hear a fish thrashing in the water from nearly 2,000 feet away — that's over one Freedom Tower away.

4. Fear of sharks is basically the ocean's answer to birth control.

"Walk into the club like..."

Through intimidation alone, sharks are able to control other species of fish from overpopulating by forcing them to lessen their reproductive habits and alter their migratory patterns. Effective!

5. Speaking of birth control, they're naturally good at it.

"Ah remember this time last year? We were at the beach without a care in the world."

While sharks may live long, prosperous lives (up to 25 years), they actually grow slowly and produce very few offspring in comparison to most fish. The average litter of a Great White, for instance, is just two to 10 pups a year, with a gestation period lasting as long as two years (!!).

6. Shark embryos have built-in security systems.

Hello, ocean!

Not only do sharks detect their prey by tracking the electric fields they emit, but some shark embryos can actually do the same with predators, recognizing the electric fields they put out and responding by completely shutting down their respiratory functions.

7. More sharks = fewer diseases.

"I know carcass isn't fancy, but it really hits the spot when you're hungry."

Sharks typically feed on the weakest and sickest members of their prey colonies and even scavenge the sea floor to feast on dead carcasses, acting as a sort of oceanwide CDC (more like sea-d-sea, amiright?!) by preventing potentially fatal diseases from spreading and even strengthening the gene pools of these hunted species.

8. Seriously, like even our diseases.

We owe you, big time.

Both humans and sharks have an immune system that relies on antibodies to prevent and fight disease, but the shark's immune system is unique in that it actually contains large quantities of urea, an excreted substance that keeps them from dehydrating.

Since urea actually destabilizes antibodies, sharks have also developed several molecular adaptations to prevent urea from making them vulnerable to diseases, which researchers are now applying to human antibodies in the hopes of turning us into invulnerable Terminators, more or less.

9. That tuna salad you're eating? Thank a shark.

This time, the food chain tables have turned, sea birds.

If hungry sharks weren't keeping down the seabird population, some species of tuna might be facing extinction since they are the go-to meal of these winged assailants. Tiger sharks are credited with eating about 10% of the albatross population annually, and great whites have even beached themselves seeking a seagull appetizer.

10. And while you're at it, thank them for the coral reefs we all love so much.

Just coral reefin', the way I usually do.

When sharks are removed from reef ecosystems, the population of plant-eating fish species in reefs also drops, leading to overgrown algae that suffocates what few growing reefs we have left. The same goes for seagrass, which tiger sharks also help make flourish by keeping sea turtles from overgrazing and subsequently destroying their own habitats.

For all the bad press they get, sharks are basically the omnipresent healers of the ocean, which makes this next fact all the more unbelievable.

There's still one terrifying truth about sharks.

Large shark populations have declined by over 90% in the last generation alone and are facing extinction due to a variety of factors — chief among them, overfishing and fin poaching.

For every human killed by a shark, 2 million sharks are killed by humans, with over 200,000 sharks being killed in the fin trade per day.

The extinction of several shark species within our lifetime is a very real possibility that would lead to disastrous environmental effects.

That's why Racing Extinction recently created a quiz to shed some light on this pressing issue.

We are the last generation that can put an end to shark finning.

Yeah! So, head over to their website, take the quiz, and pass it along to your friends to help spread the word.

That, or get used to the idea of living in a world where Shark Week doesn't exist, which is just…

GIF via "That '70s Show."

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Democracy

Appalachian mom's speech on Kentucky's proposed abortion ban is a must-hear for everyone

Danielle Kirk is speaking up for those often overlooked in our cultural debates.

Canva, courtesy of Danielle Kirk

Appalachian mom gives passionate speech.

Many people felt a gut punch when the Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to an abortion. However, for some this was a call to action.

Danielle Kirk, 27, a mom of two and an activist on TikTok, used her voice in an attempt to educate the people that make decisions in her small town. Kirk lives in Kentucky where a trigger law came into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Being a former foster child, she knew she had to say something. Kirk spoke exclusively with Upworthy about why she decided to speak up.

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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