Great White Sharks #letsLEARNfriday

I’m kind of cracking up that the first thing we are going to do a deep dive on is great white sharks, but guys, four people requested it! I had no idea that great whites were such an interesting topic! But I get it. They are fascinating. So lets do this, shall we? Lets learn about these big ol’ sharks!

GREAT WHITE SHARKS

picture from national geographic.com

Description and Features

Great White Sharks, or their scientific name, Carcharodon Carcharis (doesn’t that sound like a dinosaur name?), are large, ahem, huge carnivorous fish. They are the apex predator of the ocean. They tend to grow to be about 15 to 20+ feet long and can weigh anywhere around two and a half tons. They’re shaped similarly to a torpedo and have a gray upper body that can easily help them blend in with the bottom of the ocean floor, and a white under belly, which is where they get their name from. They have incredibly powerful tails that can launch them through the water at speeds around 15mph. Torpedo, indeed. Great White Sharks can have up to 300 sharp, triangular-shaped teeth in several rows inside of their powerful jaws. They also have impeccable senses of smell, which no doubt helps them when finding their next meal. Sharks are so wired for hunting that they even have a ‘sixth sense,’ if you will. They are able to sense electrical currents in the water that come off of other living things. With an advantage like that, no wonder they’re the apex. Oh, and you know those little fish that you see swimming right beside sharks? I learned that those little guys are called, Pilot Fish and they eat parasites off of larger fish, as well as catching scraps that they don’t eat. They also feel protected beside these large predators, because the fish that would typically feast on them won’t come near a shark.

Diet

Great Whites are the largest predatory fish in the ocean, and there is very little that they won’t feed on. They have been known to feed on other sharks, crustaceans, sea birds, mollusks and various fish. Larger Great White Sharks have also been known to prey on sea lions, seals, small whales, dolphins and deceased larger whales.

Population

These sharks are commonly found in cool, coastal waters. It sounds like there isn’t really an estimate on the exact population of these giant creatures, however scientists say that their numbers and tragically dropping. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature say they are classified as, ‘vulnerable,’ which is just one short step away from endangered. Two of the biggest dangers to a sharks life are overfishing and sharks getting caught in fish nets. This makes me so sad! Even if these are big, scary predators, it breaks my heart to learn of a species slowly getting smaller and small in numbers.

Not-So-Family-Oriented

A mother shark will typically have two baby sharks at a time called, Pups. Pups commonly weigh around 50 to 60 pounds at birth. Mama shark has zero maternal instinct though. The second those babies pop into the ocean, they are on their own. In some cases, the mother shark will even try to eat her own pups. Immediately after birth, these baby sharks will swim off into the ocean, completely taking care of themselves.

Shark Attacks

Lastly, and something I think everyone thinks about when sharks are discussed is the subject of shark attacks. National Geographic says, “Of the 100-plus annual shark attacks worldwide, a third to a half are attributed to great white sharks.” Thankfully, however, the majority of these attacks are not fatal. Great Whites are known to “sample-bite” before really attacking, and typically when they ‘sample’ a human, they let them go. I mean, being sampled by a shark still sounds like something thats definitely on my top 5 list of fears, but I guess its a little more reassuring to know that humans aren’t something sharks are craving, you know? When there are fatal attacks, they’re usually because of what you could call, mistaken identity. A swimmer in the ocean can easily look like a tasty seal to a shark. Its also important to remember that when you enter the ocean, you are entering the sharks home. They have even more of a right to be there than you do. It is important to be aware and informed when you enter any area of ocean.

But what can you do if you if a shark approaches you in the water? Some steps you can take to help your chances out are to maintain eye-contact, don’t panic and make sudden or splashy movements, do not play dead, remember you can punch the nose – but remember its mouth is right under that – maybe jab their gills instead, slowly back away. But like…lets just really hope none of us find ourselves in this predicament. CAN YOU IMAGINE?! *shudders*

Great White Shark Fun Facts:

-A Great White can smell a single drop of blood in 25 gallons of water – they could also detect a colony of seals around 2 miles away

-The sharks scientific name essentially means, “ragged-toothed”

-Great White Sharks (and all true sharks) have no real bones

-They usually attack their prey coming at them from below

-Some sharks become very docile and even in a trance-like state when flipped upside down (something researches use to their advantage)

HAVE SOMETHING YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT? LET ME KNOW WHAT IT IS! WE’LL LEARN ABOUT IT TOGETHER!

sources

nationalgeographic.com

Shark Research of Miami

seahistory.com

natgeokids.com

cnn.com/travel

animals.howstuffworks.com

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