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Great White Shark Fact Sheet

The Great White Shark, Carcharodon caracaras, is called in Australia the White Pointer although the American name of Great White Shark is rapidly taking over in Australia.  One Australian I know asked if there is a Lesser White Shark since there is a Great White Shark.  I must confess that I do not know the answer to this question, but there was a shark called the ‘Giant White Shark’.  In case anyone asks if there are any other colors of pointers, the answer is yes, in Australia, the Mako shark Prionace glauca is usually called the Blue Pointer.

Other names for the Great White Shark are the ‘White Shark’ and the ‘White Death’.  Similarly one could ask if there are sharks called by any other colors.  There are, including the ‘Black SharkLabeo chrysophekadion this is not a true shark, but still has the name.  Of course there was a ‘Black Death’.  This was a disease.

Some scientists believe the Great White Shark is related to the prehistoric Giant White Shark, the Megalodon, and this huge predator was given the scientific name Carcharodon megalodon, although the relationship is argued over.

Great White Sharks live in coastal waters with a sea water temperature of between 12̊ C and 24̊ C (53̊ F and 75̊ F) and places where they are found include California, Southern Australia, South Africa, Mexico, Hawaii and several other places. They are listed as vulnerable, and numbers seem to be declining.

Unlike most sharks, the Great White Shark has a nearly symmetrical tail.  (The Blue Pointer does as well.)  Although there are several reports of Great White Sharks 11 meters (35 feet) long, this is bigger than they usually get.  Accurately measured Great White Sharks have been 6m (20 Feet) long, so it is a big fish.

The Great White Shark is not a warm blooded animal, but it has an adaptation that allows it to maintain a warmer body temperature than the water it is swimming in. 

The natural prey of the Great White Shark includes marine mammals such as sea lions and dolphins.  The Great White Shark also eats fish including some big and fast fish.

They are probably the most dangerous shark in the world to Humans, but not nearly as dangerous as driving to the beach to swim.  There are a lot more people killed in traffic accidents than by Great White Sharks.  There are also a lot more Humans killed by dogs than by Great White Sharks, but we share the same environment as dogs much more than the environment of the Great White Shark.   Our own dog Bubbles, a Shih Tzu, does not often kill Humans.

Predators of the Great White Shark include larger Great White Sharks.  Pods of Dolphins will sometimes kill Great White Sharks by ramming them.  Killer Whales do not often kill Great WhiteSharks but this has been recorded.

Great White Sharks are live bearers.  There is evidence of cannibalism among the babies before they are born.

Although Great White Sharks have been kept in very large aquariums as a tourist attraction, and for study, this is not a fish I recommend for home aquariums.
 
This Fact Sheet is also published at Associated Content, and many other articles by Steve Challis are on the same site.
 


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