Great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) are huge and powerful warm-blooded fish that have been around for at least 11 million years. Also known as white pointers, their ancestors existed on Earth 400 million years ago, which is 200 million years before the first dinosaur appeared. This fearsome predator at the top of the oceanic food chain has long commanded man’s fascination and respect.
They have slate-gray upper bodies to blend in with the rocky coastal sea floor, but they get their name from their white underbellies. They’re streamlined, torpedo-shaped swimmers with powerful tails that can propel them through the water at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. They can even leave the water completely, breaching like whales when attacking prey from underneath.
Great whites use their speed and coloring to help them hunt. They search for prey at the surface of the ocean while swimming below. Once they spot a target, they use a burst of speed to bump their prey while simultaneously biting it. They have several rows of teeth that can number into the thousands. As teeth fall out, they are rapidly replaced by those in the row behind them. These sharp, serrated teeth can be devastating. A single, large bite can be fatal.
Hunting And Diet
Highly adapted predators, their mouths are lined with up to 300 serrated, triangular teeth arranged in several rows, and they have an exceptional sense of smell to detect prey. They even have organs that can sense the tiny electromagnetic fields generated by animals. Their prey includes other sharks, crustaceans, molluscs, and sea birds. Larger whtie sharks will also prey on sea lions, seals, and small toothed whales like orcas. The species has even been seen feeding on dead whales.
Of the 100-plus annual shark attacks worldwide, a third to a half are attributed to great white sharks. Most of these, however, are not fatal. Research finds that great whites, which are naturally curious, often “sample bite” then release their human target. It’s not a terribly comforting distinction, but it does indicate that humans are not actually on the great white’s menu. Fatal attacks, experts say, are typically cases of mistaken identity: Swimmers and surfers can look a lot like their favorite prey—seals—when seen from below.
Population And Conservation
There is no reliable population data for the great white shark, but scientists agree that their number are decreasing precipitously. Overfishing and getting accidentally caught in fishing nets are their two biggest threats. The species is classified as vulnerable—one step away from endangered—by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Facts About Great White Sharks
Carcharodon carcharias, more commonly known as the great white shark, is one of more than 450 shark species and is the largest of all predatory sharks in the ocean today. Adult great white sharks grow to a maximum size of approximately 20 feet in length, weigh up to 6,600 pounds, and are estimated to live for 30 years.
Great whites play a special role in the ocean as a top predator by keeping prey populations such as elephant seals and sea lions in balance. The presence of great white sharks ultimately increases species stability and the diversity of the ocean. Great white sharks have serrated bladelike teeth with the upper jaw containing a row of 23-28 teeth and their lower jaw 20-26 teeth. These triangular teeth can reach up to 6.6 inches in height.
Female great white sharks mature between 13-16 feet in length at 12-14 years of age whereas males mature between 11.5-14.5 feet in length at 9-10 years of age. Great white sharks bear live young and females give birth to between two and 10 pups per litter, and perhaps as many as 14. Researchers think the gestation period is anywhere from 12-22 months which would only allow for breeding to occur approximately every other year.
Male great white sharks generally arrive at the same time to the Farallon Islands off the California Coast and the offshore Island of Guadalupe, Mexico from late July through August, and females arrive to these locations several weeks thereafter. These sharks are observed at their coastal aggregation sites through February.
What Is The Heaviest Great White Shark Ever Recorded?
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA), recognizes the largest Great White, as the one caught in 1959, by Alf Dean in Australian waters, weighing 1208 kg (2663 lb).
How Much Does A Normal Great White Shark Weigh?
Most weigh between 680 and 1,800 kg (1,500 and 4,000 pounds), but some weighing more than 2,270 kg (about 5,000 pounds) have been documented. White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) have a sharply pointed conical snout, large pectoral and dorsal fins, and a strong crescent-shaped tail.
How Big Is A 20′ Great White Shark?
Imagine a 20-foot great white. If like me you are five feet tall then the shark is four times your length. A 20-foot shark will be about 6 feet tall, so even if you were swimming upright beside it, it would tower over you. Even more frightening, if you met it face-to-face, its jaws would be 8 feet wide. Eeek! At that size it could easily swallow you whole!
The great white shark averages 4.5 m (15 ft.) in length, but some have been recorded as large as 6 m (20 ft.) long! They generally weigh up to 2250 kg (5000 lb.).
How Much Does A 20 Great White Shark Weigh?
Adult great white sharks grow to a maximum size of approximately 20 feet in length, weigh up to 6,600 pounds, and are estimated to live for 30 years.
Is A Tiger Shark Bigger Than A Great White?
Tiger Sharks average around 10–14 feet and max out at just over 18 feet. Fully-grown White Sharks (their official name) often reach around 16 feet. … Great Whites have a much heavier build than Tiger Sharks. A White Shark will generally weigh more than a Tiger Shark of the same size.
What Is The Biggest Shark Alive Today?
The biggest known predatory species, the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), grows to only about 20 feet (6 m) long, and the filter-feeding whale shark (Rhincodon typus), the biggest fish species alive today, measures about 18 to 33 feet (6 to 10 m) from nose to tail tip, on average.
What Is The Nicest Shark?
Nurse sharks are thought to be among the most docile sharks, and frequently allow humans to swim near them or pet them.
What Is The Meanest Shark?
The great white is the most dangerous shark with a recorded 314 unprovoked attacks on humans. This is followed by the striped tiger shark with 111 attacks, bull sharks with 100 attacks and blacktip shark with 29 attacks.
What’s The Most Aggressive Shark?
the great white shark
1. Unsurprisingly, the king of the sharks and frequent guest star of nightmares, the great white shark is the most dangerous, with a recorded 314 unprovoked attacks on humans.