Sharks have 5 to 7 gill arches with a single gill slit in each arch. Most fish have an operculum, or covering, over their gills. Sharks do not have an operculum, but they do have structural gill rakers perpendicular to the gill arches. Sharks breathe through ram ventilation. Ram ventilation occurs as water flows over the shark's gills. Water passes through the mouth and over gills as a shark swims forward. Sharks have an additional gill slit, or spiracle, directly behind their eyes. The spiracle directs water to the mouth, and gill rakers direct water over the gill slits.
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