The Great White Shark
The size of the Carcharadon Carcarias and efficiency as a predator has caused it to be labeled as the most feared shark in the world and has led to unnecessary fear and panic. As most of the facts on Great White behavior is purely speculation, gathering more knowledge on this magnificent creature has become quite a trend amongst marine biologists, travelers and the shark-enthusiast.
Whilst shark cage diving with the Great White, it is our aim to study them in their natural habitat in order to gather concrete proof on how these animals operate. This in turn will provide us with the opportunity to help protect this endangered species.
The Great White shark is one of the world’s largest known extant macro predatory fish. It is one of the top predators of marine mammals. Great White sharks can be found in almost all coastal and offshore waters which have water temperatures between 12 and 24 degrees Celsius. Dyer Island, close to Gansbaai/Kleinbaai has one of the densest known populations of Great White sharks hence Gansbaai being named the Great White Capital of the world!
Some interesting facts include:
- Male Great White sharks reach maturity at 3.5–4meters long and females at 4.5–5meters long.
- Adults on average are 4–5.2 m (13–17.1 ft) long and have a mass of 680–1,100 kg (1,500–2,400 lb).
- Females on average are generally larger than males.
- The Great White shark can reach 6.1 m (20 ft) in length and 1,900 kg (4,200 lb)—2,268 kg (5,000 lb) in weight.
- Very little is known about the reproductive habits of the Great White. There are speculation and some evidence that a massive feast (such as feasting on a whale carcass) might trigger mating.
- People are still under debate regarding the maximum size of a Great White shark as they have found that sizes vary as circumstances do.
- It is believed that females dominate the males, larger sharks dominate the smaller sharks and residents dominates newcomers.
- The Great White shark has an extra sense which enables them to detect the electromagnetic field emitted by the movement of living animals in the ocean. Every time a living creature moves, it generates an electrical field and is so sensitive it can detect half a billionth of a volt. (Crazy, right?) The Great White shark can even pick up the faint electrical pulse of a heartbeat.
The ecology and behavior of Great White sharks are not well understood by man or even the latest technology, which contributes to the fact that this is an amazingly intelligent animal.
When hunting, Great Whites tend to separate and resolve conflicts with rituals and displays. They rarely resort to combat, but battle scars have been detected on most of these animals. This tells us that when another shark moves too closely into another’s territory, they react with a warning bite. Another speculation would be that they bite to show their dominance.
One of the most common means by which they catch their prey is by means of breaching. Great white sharks are smart, carnivorous hunters and they usually use various strategies to catch their prey, such as “surprising” their prey from below. They breach with such force and explosive energy that it propels the shark right out of the water.
Young great white sharks eat fish, rays, and other sharks. Adults eat larger prey, including sea lions, seals, small toothed whales (like belugas), otters, and sea turtles.