The great white shark (scientific name Carcharodon carcharias) is the largest predatory fish in the world.
White shark in the “warm-blooded” shark family known as Lamnidae, or mackerel sharks, are able to maintain a warmer internal body temperature than the outside environment – unlike “cold-blooded” sharks. other, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History, USA.
The great white shark is the only living member of the genus Carcharodon – derived from the Greek “karcharos” meaning sharpen and “odous,” meaning tooth. This name was chosen because the great white shark has 300 triangular, serrated teeth. These sharks have a bullet body, gray skin and a white belly.
Despite being one of the shark species best known for movies like “Jaws” (1975), the great white shark lives a reclusive lifestyle, and scientists still have a lot to learn about it. this iconic predator.
Great white sharks sometimes bite people because they mistake them for seals, their food.
Females are usually larger than males
Great white shark sizes vary, but females can be larger than males. According to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, female great white sharks average 4.6 to 4.9 meters in length, while males typically reach between 3.4 and 4 meters, according to the History Museum. Natural Smithsonian National in Washington DC.
The largest great whites can grow up to 6.1 meters in length, and there are unconfirmed reports of great whites up to 7 meters in length, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History. Adults weigh between 1,800 and 3,000 kg, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The largest shark ever was the now-extinct megalodon shark ( Carcharocles megalodon ), which could grow up to 18m or more, although scientists are still debating its exact size. .
Where are great white sharks found?
Great white sharks have a large geographical range; They live in most of the world’s temperate and tropical oceans and have resident populations off the coasts of the United States, Australia, South Africa and other countries.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, they are most commonly seen in cooler, temperate waters and swim above the surface as well as down to depths of more than 1,200m below the surface.
Great white sharks migrate and make long-distance journeys across the open ocean, possibly to forage and breed. A 2002 study published in the journal Nature found that a great white shark swam 3,800 kilometers from the central coast of California to Kahoolawe Island in Hawaii.
In 2005, researchers tracked a great white shark swimming nearly 11,100 kilometers from the coast of South Africa to Australia, before returning. To get enough energy for such long journeys, great whites store energy in their oily liver.
Are great whites dangerous?
Great white sharks occasionally bite and kill humans, although the risk of being bitten by a shark is very low. A 2021 study published in the Journal of the Interface of the Royal Society found that, for a juvenile great white shark, human form and movement while swimming or paddling on a surfboard waves look like seals – one of their main food sources. This suggests that attacks can be a case of confusion, at least for minors.
“White sharks are often portrayed as heartless killers and cannibals, however, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Humans are just like their food,” said Laura Ryan, author lead researcher of the 2021 study and a postdoctoral researcher at Macquarie University in Australia, said.
According to the International Shark Attack File of the Florida Museum of Natural History (ISAF), there have been 354 unprovoked great white shark attacks, including 57 fatal encounters, recorded since 2012. 1580 – more than any other shark.
Great white sharks are predators that eat a variety of prey, including fish, seals, sea turtles, and seabirds. Great white sharks use rapid speed to capture prey. Thanks to their elongated body, they can swim on water at speeds up to 24 km/h.
By hunting their prey, great whites and other sharks play an important role in the ocean. They keep prey populations healthy by capturing weak and sick individuals, and preventing those populations from growing too large for the resources of their habitat.
The only animals that eat adult great white sharks are the adult white whale and the killer whale (Orcinus orca), which can hunt great whites for their energy-rich livers.
Scientists still have a lot to learn about great white sharks, and much of their mating behavior remains a mystery. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, scientists have studied shark specimens, such as pregnant females accidentally caught, and learned that great whites do not lay eggs. The fertilized egg hatches inside the female’s body and develops there until the female gives birth.
A 2016 study published in the journal Biology Open (opens in a new tab) found that embryos can ingest uterine fluid and undeveloped eggs from when they hatch inside the mother and when they are born. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, while in the womb, young whites also swallow their own teeth. They can do this to reuse calcium and other minerals.
Pregnancy is said to take about a year, after which a female gives birth to 2 to 10 pups. When sharks are more than 1m long, they are born and can take care of themselves.
The researchers believe that the oldest female shark in the study was 40 years old and the oldest male was 73 years old. This suggests that males may live longer than females, but further research is still needed to corroborate these findings.
Great white sharks in danger of extinction?
According to a 2018 assessment, great white sharks are vulnerable to extinction and their populations are declining. Great white sharks are globally threatened by human fishing. Great white sharks are also intentionally killed by humans as part of beach protection programs in Australia and South Africa, although sharks are sometimes caught and released back into the ocean.