The Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)
Often mistakenly thought of as the most voracious predator of the seas, the great white shark(Carcharodon carcharias) is however, the world’s largest living predatory fish exceeding three tons in weight and growing to over 20 feet long. Their powerful body is supported by a cartilaginous skeleton is streamlined for efficient movement through the water.
As large and powerful predators, great white sharks play an important role at the top of the marine food chain
It has nearly 3,000 teeth and can rip their prey into mouth-sized pieces which they then swallow whole. The great white shark has a heavy, torpedo-shaped body that allows it to cruise efficiently through the pelagic waters of the oceans for long periods of time. The great white shark feeds on a variety of prey, including small fish, such as salmon and halibut, turtles, and large mammals, such as seals, porpoises and dolphins. A great white shark can exhibit high-speed bursts in pursuit of its prey; even leaping out of the water sometimes to catch a fleeing seal. The great white shark, unlike most fishes, is able to maintain their body temperature higher than that of the surrounding water using a heat exchange system in their blood vessels. This helps the shark to move quickly when needed, such as when chasing prey.
The great white shark is found throughout the oceans of the world, mostly in temperate waters. However, this shark is occasionally found in cold waters or warm waters. Current research found that adult great white sharks can undertake long-distance journeys across oceans; however, the juveniles usually remain nearer to the shore. Great white shark are normally seen in coastal waters or the insular shelves and near offshore islands, however, recent scientific research has shown that adult great white sharks are probably pelagic for most of the year. There are certain areas off the coasts of the North America, Australia, and South Africa where great white sharks are frequently sighted.
Surprisingly little is actually known about the great white shark’s biology and behavior. It is believed that female great white sharks do not reproduce until they are nearly 15 feet in length and only reproduces every two or three years The great white shark is ovoviviparous; that is its pups hatch from eggs within the female’s body, and then the young are born. Litter sizes generally range from two to ten pups. The gestation period is not known exactly but is estimated to be between 12 and 18 month. After birth, there is no parental care provided and survival of young is believed to be low. Great white sharks are slow-growing, late maturing and long-lived, with a relatively low reproductive capacity.
The great white shark is decreasing in numbers due to years of hunting by man. Man kills many, many more great white sharks each year than the number of people attacked by great white sharks each year. The great white shark is currently classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.