Great White Shark Facts – Interesting Info On The Apex Predator

Immerse yourself in the intriguing details, visuals, and comprehensive knowledge about one of the most formidable sea predators, the great white shark!

Are you curious about what makes up the great white shark’s diet? Where does it prefer to reside? Does it even need sleep? Does it have any threats to its life? The answers to these questions and more await you…

Essential Information on Great White Sharks: Family & Features

The renowned great white shark, scientifically classified as Carcharodon carcharias, belongs to the white shark family, known as Lamnidae. This family forms a part of a larger group of sharks, the order Lamniformes, popularly recognized as “mackerel sharks”.

In the vein of all mackerel sharks, the great white shark is characterized by two dorsal fins, five gill slits, an anal fin, and a mouth that stretches beyond its eyes. (The back dorsal fin of the great white shark is markedly smaller than its iconic front dorsal fin.)

Contrary to the eyes of requiem sharks (like the tiger shark), mackerel sharks’ eyes lack a protective translucent, third eyelid referred to as a nictitating membrane.

  • Explore various shark species on this page: Types of Sharks
  • Acquire more knowledge about fish on this page: Fish – The Ultimate Guide
  • Learn about shark reproduction on this page: Do Sharks Lay Eggs?

How Threatening Is The Great White Shark?

The great white shark is infamously feared across the globe. The species, being an apex predator, justifies this fear to some extent with its well-equipped adaptations for hunting and overcoming its prey.

No other shark species has been responsible for as many lethal attacks on humans as the great white shark. In fact, the International Shark Attack File reveals that this species causes nearly triple the fatalities compared to the closest rival, the Tiger Shark. (Source)

However, it is crucial to bear in mind that most attacks on humans by great whites are not fatal, and they do not intentionally target humans. Researchers suggest that these fish might just be “sample biting” before letting their “catch” go.

Dimensions of The Great White Shark

Full-grown great white sharks can exceed 20 feet in length!
The great white shark is ranked as the third-largest fish globally, following the whale shark and basking shark.

Maximum Size

Great white sharks can grow up to an impressive length of 20 ft / 6.1 m and a staggering weight of around 1,905 kg / 4,200 lb.

Average Size

The typical size of this shark is much smaller, with the larger females measuring around 4.75 m / 15.58 ft., and males around 3.7 m / 12.14 ft. in length.

Watch the video below to witness one of the largest great white sharks ever captured on film!

These sharks are typically slate-grey on their upper body, with the characteristic white belly that lends them their name.

This unique color scheme, known as countershading, provides a form of camouflage from both above and below. This form of coloration is observed in many marine creatures, ranging from sharks to penguins.

Habitat of The Great White Shark

Great white sharks can be found in temperate coastal waters globally and may sometimes venture into the open sea.

Delve deeper into marine habitats on this page: Animal Habitats
The species migrates and is known to cross oceans. There are records of individuals journeying between South Africa and Australasia.

The exact population of the great white shark remains unknown.

Great white sharks are known to inhabit depths of up to 1,200 feet / 3,937 meters.

Facts about Great White Shark: Reproduction

Female great white sharks reach sexual maturity between the ages of 17 and 30 on average. Gestation is believed to last over a year, and a litter typically comprises between 2 to 10 pups.

As with all sharks, the offspring of the great white shark are referred to as “pups”.

Lifespan of a Great White Shark

The lifespan of a great white shark is believed to be approximately 70 years.

What Is A Great White Shark’s Preferred Diet?

Great white sharks are adaptable predators, with sharks of all ages consuming a broad range of animals, including fish, marine mammals, birds, and reptiles (such as sea turtles).

Young great white sharks usually feed on fish, whereas mature sharks tend to prefer marine mammals such as sea lions, seals, and whales (including dolphins). They also feed on carrion.

Great whites often rely on the element of surprise while stalking their prey, typically swimming beneath their victims before swiftly ascending to strike.

Following a substantial meal, a great white shark might not eat again for up to 2 months.

Adaptations of The Great White Shark

Great white shark adaptations enhance its hunting prowess. The great white shark boasts several adaptations, enabling it to be an effective predator. Its streamlined body and powerful tail allow it to attain high speeds, making it capable of capturing other speedy marine creatures.

How Fast Can A Great White Shark Swim?

The top speed of a great white shark is estimated at 25 miles / 40 km per hour, potentially reaching up to 35 miles / 56 km per hour in short spurts. (Source)

How Many Teeth Does A Great White Shark Have?

The shark’s mouth contains roughly 300 serrated, triangular teeth, perfectly suited for slicing through flesh.

The teeth are arranged in rows, with new rows continually advancing forwards to replace the older front teeth.

Over its lifetime, a great white shark may use up to 20,000 teeth!

Sixth Sense

All sharks, including the great white shark, have sense organs known as ampullae of Lorenzini, capable of detecting the electromagnetic fields produced by the muscles of their prey.

Do Great White Sharks Sleep?

Great whites probably don’t sleep in the same way humans do. They display periods of inactivity, but it’s uncertain whether they’re “sleeping” or merely “resting”.

Great whites need to keep moving, or they will sink. Like all cartilaginous fish (fish with skeletons made of cartilage rather than bone), great whites lack a swim bladder for buoyancy. (This internal, gas-filled organ is common among bony fish.) Instead, great whites have an oily liver that offers some floatation.

Predators of The Great White Shark

Great white sharks are apex predators, and adult sharks have no natural enemies. Young great white sharks may fall prey to other sharks (including other great whites), and there have been instances of killer whales, or orca, attacking great whites.

White Sharks at Risk of Extinction?

The IUCN classifies the great white shark as “Vulnerable”. The population of the species is decreasing, and this threatened shark could potentially become an endangered species.

The primary threat to the great white shark is unintentional capture (bycatch) by fisheries using methods such as longlines, gillnets, and trawling while aiming for other species.

Key Facts About Great White Sharks

  • Great white sharks can detect a single drop of blood in 25 gallons (100 liters) of water.
  • This species can travel at speeds of up to 25 miles / 40 km per hour – potentially faster in brief spurts.
  • Female great whites are typically larger than their male counterparts.
  • Great white sharks don’t masticate their food but tear it into bite-sized chunks that are swallowed whole.
  • Great whites possess electroreceptory organs called “ampullae of Lorenzini” that help them detect prey.
  • Great white sharks are incapable of swimming backward.
  • Unlike most fish, which are cold-blooded, the great white shark can maintain a body temperature higher than its surroundings and, as a result, is classified as “warm-blooded”.
  • Great whites have a lifespan of up to 70 years, possibly even longer.
  • The great white shark’s coloration is a form of countershading, camouflaging the shark from prey both from below and above.
  • The scientific name for the great white is Carcharodon carcharias. “Carcharodon” comes from the Greek words “kacharos”, meaning “sharp” or “jagged”, and “odous”, meaning “tooth”.

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