Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Beneath the blue – Carcharodon carcharias aka The Great White Shark

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The ocean is home to more than 1 million species of marine plants and animals which includes the great white shark. I am sure anybody who has seen the movie Jaws has had horrible nightmares of being hunted down and being ripped into pieces by one of these giants. Well, in reality, the odds of your nightmare coming to life are infinitesimally low!

The great whites are known to be the largest warm-blooded predatory fish on earth. The average length of a great white is about 15ft but have the potential grow much higher in length and there have been sightings of some even up to 20ft in length. The average weight of one of these giants is about 2250kg.

They get the name great white due to their white underbellies and possess slate-gray upper bodies which allows them to blend in with the coastal sea floor when viewed from above.

The great whites comprise of streamlined, torpedo-shaped bodies and strong, powerful tails which qualify them as excellent swimmers and can reach speed of up to 24 km/hr (15mph).

They utilize their color and speed to aid them when hunting. The process of hunting involves stalking of prey at the surface, from below the ocean and once the target is spotted, the great whites plunge towards the prey using a burst of speed while biting it at the same time.

These magnificent creatures are highly adapted predators. They are blessed with mouths lined with up to 300 triangular, serrated teeth which are organized in to several rows. Apart from their very intriguing mouths, these organisms have acquired an extraordinary sense of smell. Besides their mouths and exceptional sense of smell, the great whites retain organs that are capable of detecting minute electromagnetic fields generated by animals all of which enhance their ability to hunt efficiently.

The fully grown great whites prey on sea lions, seals, small toothed whales and even sea turtles.

The great whites reside mainly in temperate and sub tropical regions in the northern and southern hemispheres. You can expect to catch a glimpse of these creatures in southern Australia, South Africa, northern California and the north-eastern United States.

Great whites reproduce once in every two to three years and can produce between two to ten pups per litter.

You can expect to find great whites at the top of the food chain with very few threats as they are only threatened by orcas and larger sharks. However they are at a greater risk due to human interactions such as getting caught in fishing nets and hunted by sporting fishermen.

These are few facts about the most feared fish in the ocean and I hope that this post made you realize that they are not so terrifying after all!


Resources: (2016). Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) – Marine Species Conservation in Australia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2016].

Animal Fact Guide. (2016). Great White Shark Facts. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2016].

Society, N. (2016). Great White Sharks – Shark Pictures – Great White Facts – National Geographic. [online] National Geographic. Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2016].

Woodford, J. (2016). Great white sharks: 10 myths debunked. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2016].






2 comments on “Beneath the blue – Carcharodon carcharias aka The Great White Shark

  1. rosemarieraftellis
    May 8, 2016

    Sharks are probably my biggest fear in life, so much so that I will often not go in the water at the beach because I am so afraid of being dragged out to sea and completely mauled by one. I used to be one of those people who gladly supported the tagging, poaching and hunting of sharks because I felt that we should be able to go for a swim without fear of being attacked. After reading your post though, and seeing more facts about them that I wasn’t aware of made them seem more human. They are actually magnificent creatures with incredible senses and makes me wonder why we would want to get rid of them after all. Sure they make the news sometimes in a negative light and are on the top of the fear list for many people but I think we forget that in fact we are entering their territory in the ocean and they are only doing what comes natural.


  2. wjhar
    May 8, 2016

    Great article and well presented. There is too much of a misconception in the world today that the Great White shark kills endless amounts of people. Because of the media’s awareness of shark attacks and their ferocious appearance, the sharks are te criminals of the ocean. A fact that was presented in an article in Science Alert website ( tells us that this year, more people were killed in ‘selfie’ related incidents than were killed by sharks.
    I really enjoyed your article because you’ve explored the biological components of the shark that make it such an incredible animal. i found it very surprising that the Great White is warm-blooded, and even researched it, but it s true, so well done on producing that gem of information.
    Perhaps if you plan on doing more blogs you could explore the Great White’s hunting method a bi more? It is incredible how they use electro signals through the water to track their prey.
    On a whole, great article, but perhaps be a little more detailed and discuss your findings a bit more in future presentations.


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This entry was posted on May 8, 2016 by in Burwood - Friday 10am and tagged , , , .

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