(Photo by dailystar.co.uk)
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!
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Animal Fact Guide. (2016). Great White Shark Facts. [online] Available at: http://www.animalfactguide.com/animal-facts/great-white-shark/ [Accessed 5 May 2016].
Society, N. (2016). Great White Sharks – Shark Pictures – Great White Facts – National Geographic. [online] National Geographic. Available at: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/fish/great-white-shark/ [Accessed 5 May 2016].
Woodford, J. (2016). Great white sharks: 10 myths debunked. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2014/nov/26/-sp-great-white-sharks-10-myths-debunked [Accessed 5 May 2016].