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Great White Shark

Threat Level: High

The Great White Shark is also known as the White Pointer Shark.

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    Scientific Name....Carcharodon Carcharias
    Family Name
    Common Names
    ....maneater, white death, white pointer, blue pointer, uptails and white shark.


  • General Information: The Great White shark is the most popular and deadliest shark in the ocean. The Great Whites have been the feature in such movies as Jaws, Jaws 2 , Jaws Revenge, Shark Attack& Shark Attack 2. These sharks are a robust, torpedo-shaped, conical-snouted with a normal assortment of dorsal, anal, and paired fins. Unlike most sharks, but like other mackerel sharks, the upper and lower lobes of its tail are almost equal in size. This indicates that it swims constantly (because it must swim to breathe) and sometimes rapidly.


  • Size: The Great White Shark is the biggest of all the deadliest sharks. The size of a pup when born are approx. 3.6 feet ( 1.1m ). There have been reports of Great Whites exceeding 20 feet in length and weighing in at over 7000 lbs.
    Normally a fully grown mature Great White will be in the 13ft. to 17ft. range and weigh between 1,500 and 4,000 pounds.
    Male and female great white sharks grow at different rates. Males become adults in about nine years. Female great white sharks usually grow larger than males. They become adults in about 13 to 15 years.


  • Teeth and Jaws: Mature Great Whites have teeth in the 1 1/2" to 2" range usually, but there are known modern teeth that are over 2 1/2" long. Even though most places report Great whites as having max. 3 inch teeth , there are no modern teeth close to that size. However there are fossil teeth of great whites that not only meet 3" but exceed it. Our last report shows the biggest Great White fossil tooth found was over 3 1/2" They have long sharp teeth that are shaped like triangles, the edges of their teeth a serrated these notches help their teeth cut through prey's flesh. The great white shark's teeth grow in rows, in the back rows move forward to replace old or lost teeth. Great white sharks may use nearly 30,000 teeth in their lifetime.
    They have powerful jaws and strong muscles that can clamp their jaws shut with tons of pressure as they bite. Great white sharks' jaws are not hinged like people's jaws. Instead, their upper and lower jaws move seprately ,as this allows them to open their jaws wide and be able to swallow large amounts of food at a time.


  • Color: The Great White Shark is only truly white on its belly, the top of its body is actually a gray or blue/gray in color which makes it difficult to see in the water. With the dark color on its back its hard for other animals to spot the shark , which makes it easier for the great white to attack its prey without warning.


  • Feeding Habits: Great white sharks are carnivores so there primary diet includes fish such as sea lions, seals, sea otters, smaller whales, and smaller sharks, porpoises and dolphins, and sea turtles. These sharks get the energy it needs from eating animals that have a lot of fatty tissue. They are known predators of California sea lions, Australia and New Zealand fur seals, elephant seals and harbour seals. Large whites sharks also scavenge on the remains of dead whales and other fish or animals. Great white sharks do not chew their food they take big massive bites and swallow the pieces whole and have been known to swallow some animals whole. Younger great white sharks feed heavily on bony fishes, especially bottom-dwelling forms rays, crabs and smaller sharks.
    Great whites are among the few sharks that stick their heads out of the water before, and sometimes during, attacks on prey. As the shark takes the bait, it's eyes roll back in their sockets revealing the white surface of the eyeball. This protects the most vital front part of the eye from being scratched, which may happen if the shark is attacking live prey, such as a seal armed with claws and teeth.
    Being warm-blooded may also help the great white to digest its food more quickly, scientists estimates that after a big meal a great white can last three months before needing another one.


  • Senses: The Great White Shark primarily use their sense of smell and sense of electric charges. Their nostrils can smell one drop of blood in 100 litres of water ( 25 gallons ). The sharks nostrils are only used for smelling and not for breathing like humans. Sharks breath through their gills. They have excellent hearing, scientists believe great whites can hear noises in the water up to 825 feet away. The great white sharks feel vibrations in the water with their lateralis system. This system consists of a row of sensory pores that runs from head to tail. Inside these small openings are hair-like nerve endings. The nerve endings help great white sharks feel movement in the water. Animals give off small electrical impulses therefore the great whites can sense the electrical impulses from other animals. They have cells in their jaws and snouts called "ampullae of Lorenzini." These cells detect electricity. Great white sharks can detect the location of their prey with these cells.


  • Social Behaviour: Great White Sharks are solitary animals but on occasion have been spotted travelling in pairs, or in aggregations where there is an abundant of food. While aggregating around a whale carcass white sharks will take turns feeding on the bloated cetacean, with no more than two feedings on the whale at any one time. Smaller great whites will give way to larger sharks and on occasion larger, dominant individuals will chase and bite subordinates.


  • Habitat | Migration | Distribution: The great white sharks live in water over continental shelves. They also live near island coasts and reefs. It is most
    common in coastal areas, usually near rocky reefs, and is rarely seen near coral reefs. The great white sharks are found
    near shore around most of the temperate coastlines around the world. They don't like the water hot or cold, they like it in warm temperate to temperate waters. Great whites have been found along the coastlines of California and all the way to Alaska, the east coast of the United States and most of the Gulf Coast, Hawaii, South America, South Africa, Australia ( except the north coast ) , Japan, Mediterranean Sea, New Zealand, West Africa to Scandinavia, Eastern Coastline of China and Southern Russia. In the fall some female Great White Sharks migrate to warmer waters to give birth. The Great White Shark occurs from the surface to depths of approx. 4200 feet. Sometimes you can spot a great white near the breeding grounds of seals and sea lions.


  • Life Span: No one accurately knows the life span of the Great White Shark although some believe it to be around 100 years.


  • Reproduction: Great White Sharks reproduce " Aplacental Viviparity " which means the sharks hatch from eggs but the eggs are still inside the female shark's body for one to two years. There is no placenta to nourish the pups so they must eat the unfertilized eggs or eat their siblings to stay alive. So even before there born they must kill and fend for themselves or they will be eaten. Once the mother gives birth , the baby great white sharks swim immediately away and no maternal care is given. Females give birth to 7 - 9 live pups per litter and are thought to only produce 4 - 6 litters in an entire lifetime. The young Great White sharks do not mature until they reach the age of about 10 - 12 years old , therefore Great Whites are extremely vulnerable to overfishing.


  • Swimming: Great White sharks use there big powerful tails to propel them in the water. The fins are only used for balance. They average about 2 mph but can burst to 15 mph when trying to catch prey. Great White sharks must swim constantly or they would since to the bottom of the ocean. Like other sharks , they have no gas filled bladder to keep them afloat like bony fish do. Also like other sharks they have a large , oily liver that provides some floating ability. Great Whites cannot swim backwards or even come to an abrupt stop , because their fins are not flexible like other fish. Great Whites also must keep moving to breath , this is why if they get caught in nets the die very fast. Great Whites are also only one of a couple species of sharks that jump out of the water while catching prey. They sometimes go down deep in the water and rocket skyward to catch their prey. Great whites can swim about 15 miles per hour.


  • Great White Shark Attacks: The great white shark does not hunt people for food, but sometimes does attack them. Most attacks happen when a swimmer or surfer plays in the water near breeding grounds of a sharks prey. Great whites usually stop their attack when they discover the mistake.


  • Attacking Prey: Great white sharks attack by surprise. They locate their prey, then swim quickly toward it from below and behind. Great white sharks can swim 10-15 miles per hour when attacking prey and their coloring helps them stay hidden. They do not see their prey as they attack, they roll their eyes into their sockets which protect their eyes as they strike. Great white sharks raise their snout as they are about to strike and drop their lower jaw forward. This jaw positioning allows great white sharks to take large bites out of their prey and move their lower jaw forward and up to bite. They shake and spin their bodies as they attack, to try and weaken their prey this movement tears large pieces of flesh away. Great whites sharks do not chew their food they swallow it whole or in large chunks.


  • Population Report: Great White sharks are NOT an endangered species , but they are decreasing in big numbers and may eventually become on this list. This is Why the Great White is now protected almost Globally including places like USA , Australia and South Africa. It is also Illegal to import or export Great White shark teeth and jaws.



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