Great White Shark
|GREAT WHITE SHARK (Carcharodon carcharias)
Perhaps nothing is feared more by humans than swimming in shark-infested waters, yet these ancient fish are not usually aggressive to people. Adult Great White Sharks can grow to between 5 and 6 metres long. Males are somewhat smaller than females at maturity, which is reached at about 10 years of age. They can live to be around 30 years old.
They are found all over the world, but they are higher in numbers in temperate coastal waters where there is more prey. They are well equipped for hunting, with excellent senses of sight and smell and strong muscles to propel them through the water. Their torpedo-like shape is hydrodynamic, and their strong fins cut through the water effortlessly. Great Whites have huge, strong jaws filled with rows of knife-like, serrated teeth.
Although cold-blooded, a Great White keeps its body temperature warmer than the surrounding ocean through a complex system of contracting its muscles during swimming, producing heat. This novel method of heat production allows it to stay active in cold water.
Not much is known about specific timing of the life cycles of these sharks. Based on limited data, they are thought to have between 2 and 10 live young, having incubated the eggs inside the mother. They probably have one brood only once every two or three years.
Great White Sharks eat a variety of other fish, from rockfish to swordfish to tuna, as well as molluscs, crustaceans, and birds. They will rarely bite, and even more rarely kill, a human. However, because of movies like “Jaws” in the 1970’s, the public’s impression of Great Whites as killers has led to hunting and killing for sport or accident prevention. They are now considered Vulnerable due to their sparse numbers and long reproductive cycles. They are also often accidentally caught in fishing nets and have low survival rates for release even if they are found alive.