White Death - The Great White

Charcharodon carcharias

The largest predatory shark in the ocean is the Great White Shark. Other large sharks, like whale sharks and basking sharks, feed on small planktonic creatures. The Great White Shark, however, feeds on large mammals, fish, whales, and occasionally, they accidentally bite humans. So why are these sharks so feared?

How large are Great White Sharks?

Great-White-SharkWhen they are born (often with a dozen other siblings), they are about 1.5 meters (five feet) long.  They slowly grow to become the top of the food chain. A typical Great White Shark is about four to five meters (16 feet) long and has a mass of 680 to 1,000 kilograms (2200 pounds).

The maximum size that a Great White Shark can reach is debated. The largest shark that has been reliably measured was 6.4 meters (21 feet).  It was caught in Cuban waters in 1945.  Possibly the second largest shark was reported by a Canadian Shark Research Center.  A shark measuring 6.1 meters (20 feet) was caught by an Albertan named David McKendrick.

What do Great White Sharks eat?

Great Whites are carnivorous apex predators. Their diet consists of fish (like tuna, other sharks, and rays), dolphins, porpoises, seals, seal lions, whale carcasses, and sometimes sea turtles, sea otters, and penguins. Humans are not on the menu for Great White Sharks, but they are often seriously bitten. There are very few incidents of a Great White doing much more than biting and leaving the scene.

Great White Shark Links

The best source of information on Great Whites are from the scientists doing the research.  We recommend the following:

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Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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