50 Facts about Great White Sharks
Possibly the most famous of all the sharks, the great white. Known from the very popular films Jaws, this shark has unfortunately been given a bad rep which has stuck with them for years since. Very few creatures strike more fear in humans than this incredible shark.
But the reality is, great white shark attacks on humans are rather rare – and proven even rarer for one of these attacks to be fatal. There’s so many amazing facts about sharks that will help you to understand these magnificent creatures, so don’t let the film industry steer your view towards the vicious man-eating reputation that this shark has! Great white sharks are a majestic and beautiful shark species, read on to learn 50 facts about great white sharks that you probably didn’t know!
Facts about Great White Sharks
1. Although great whites tend to stay close to the shores swimming in the shallower water, they have been spotted swimming in open water of depths up to 3900 feet.
2. Great white sharks are known to both live and hunt on the coast of almost every continent in the world, with the exception of Antarctica.
3. Great white sharks prefer to live in cooler waters with temperatures ranging from 54-75° Fahrenheit.
4. The majority of the world’s great white sharks live off of the coast of Dyer Island, South Africa. This area has been nicknamed, and is also referred to as “Shark Alley”.
5. Experts have revealed early fossil records which show evidence that great white sharks have been swimming the world’s oceans for over 16 million years, although scientists believe that they have been around even longer than that.
6. It has been previously thought that the life expectancy of a great white shark was only around 25 years, but a recent study has shown that their life expectancy is actually around 70 years.
7. On average, great white sharks weigh 1500 – 2400 pounds at maturity, that’s about as heavy as a Cow!
8. The heaviest great white shark ever recorded in the wild was estimated to weigh a massive 7328 pounds.
9. The biggest great white shark ever recorded in the wild was estimated to be about 26 feet long, that’s more than half the length of a basketball court.
10. Just like most shark species, female great white sharks grow much bigger than the males.
11. Great white sharks can typically grow up to 21 feet in length, although the females average to be around 15 – 16 feet and the males 11 – 13 feet.
12. The largest great white shark to ever be captured was off of the coast of Kangaroo Island, Australia, and was measured to be 23.4 feet long.
13. There have been numerous claims of larger great white sharks to have been seen, however, most of them have actually turned out to be sights of basking sharks which are very similar in appearance.
14. Great white sharks can eat on average, 11 tons of food in a single year.
15. Great whites are able to go a whole three months without having to eat another meal after they have fed.
16. Belonging to the group of some of the fastest predators in the oceans, great white sharks can clock up speeds of up to 35mph.
17. Sharks have six senses, these include; sight, touch, smell, taste, hearing, and electroreception.
18. These electromagnetic fields are used to feel vibrations within the water so they can find potential prey.
19. When in close range, great white sharks are even able to sense the heartbeat of immobile prey.
20. The sense of smell of a great white is so good that they are able to detect the scent of blood in the water from up to three miles away.
21. Great white sharks do not have eyelids, instead, they actually roll their eyes back into their heads in order to protect them from damage when attacking prey.
22. A great white sharks diet consists of a wide range of animals, from the large elephant seals to seabirds and sometimes even crocodiles.
23. Great whites are also known cannibals, meaning that they will eat other great white sharks, most commonly when in territorial disputes.
24. The bite force of a great white is 4000 psi, that’s 10 times the bite force of that of a lion.
25. Although this shark is predominantly a hunter, often enough great white sharks are also known to scavenge and eat carcasses of dead animals if there are unable to find prey.
26. The most popular time for great white sharks to hunt is first thing in the morning, during sunrise when visibility is low.
27. Using a practice better known as “spy-hopping”, great whites will often peak their heads out of the water in order to look for prey.
28. Great white sharks can jump to a massive 10 feet above the water surface to catch and kill their prey, this behavior is known as “breaching”.
29. The average breach of a great white shark can occurs at 25 mph, what a force!
30. There have actually been reports of great white sharks accidentally breaching onto the decks of boats.
31. Great whites use a type of camouflage which is called countershading. This makes it difficult for them to be seen in the water.
32. Inside a great white sharks mouth, they have 5 rows of teeth, with 46 teeth in each row.
33. The largest tooth of a great white shark ever to be found was 3.5 inches long, almost the size of the palm of a human hand.
34. A great white shark’s teeth are serrated just like a knife, this makes it easier to tear through flesh.
35. Although great whites do not get cavities, they lose and regrow hundreds of teeth in their lifetimes.
36. Great whites tend to bite their prey first, then leave then to weaken before returning to finish the kill.
37. These sharks are also known to grab hold of their prey and shark them side to side in order to weaken and injure it.
38. Great white sharks spend most of their lives on their own and are typically solitary hunters. The only time when they aren’t alone is during mating season.
39. Sometimes, during mating season, great white sharks often share food and hunt in packs of up to 8 sharks then share the same meal.
40. We know very little about the mating rituals of great white sharks, apart from the fact that after copulation, female sharks are often covered in bite marks.
41. The pregnancy of a female great white shark lasts for 11 months, and she will usually give birth to small litters of 2 – 12 pups.
42. Baby sharks practice a behavior called oophagy, this is where the largest and strongest pups will cannibalize the other pups inside of the womb.
43. Although the great white shark is an apex predator, this species of shark is often attached and eaten by killer whales.
44. Great white sharks are known to become motionless when flipped onto their backs. This is known as tonic immobility.
45. This tonic immobility is what is used by the killer whales to attack and kill great white sharks. The whales deliberately ram into the great white until it flips on its back and stops breathing.
46. When great white sharks smell the blood of another great white shark, they will leave the area immediately, often swimming hundreds of miles away.
47. Great white sharks are responsible for the most attacks on humans than any other species of shark. Although great whites do not actually eat people.
48. Many people survive great white shark attacks because typically, after having mistaken the human for prey, a shark will take a bite and then realize their mistake and swim away.
49. Great white sharks will often attack and capsize boats because they are drawn to the electric fields that they generate.
50. Great whites are unable to be kept in captivity due to them becoming disorientated. They will stop eating and continuously run into the aquarium walls until they die.
Conservation Status of the Great White Shark
This magnificent shark is currently listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, however, the great white shark is on the cusp of being labeled endangered due to overfishing.
Some threats to great white sharks include targeted commercial and sports fisheries, for jaws, fins, game records and for aquarium display; protective beach meshing; media-fanned campaigns to kill Great White Sharks after a biting incident occurs; and degradation of inshore habitats used as pupping and nursery grounds.
What You Can Do to Help the Great White Shark
So what can you do to help these amazing sharks? Share this information with others! Educate your friends and family to help raise awareness about this vulnerable species. You can also help great white sharks by not purchasing great white jaws or items made from their fins. Another great way to support is to adopt a great white shark today, help support their conservation and help towards a better future for our great white sharks.