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Great White Shark
Great White Shark

Class

Fish

Species

Shark

 

The Great White Shark also known as the great white, white pointer, white shark, or white death, is a species of large lamniform shark which can be found in the coastal surface waters of all the major oceans. The great white shark is mainly known for its size, with the largest individuals known to have approached or exceeded 6 m (20 ft) in length, and 2,268 kg (5,000 lb) in weight. This shark reaches its around 15 years of age and can have a life span of over 30 years.

The great white shark is arguably the world's largest known extant macropredatory fish, and is one of the primary predators of marine mammals. It is also known to prey upon a variety of other marine animals, including fish and seabirds. It is the only known surviving species of its genus Carcharodon, and is ranked first in having the most attacks on humans. The IUCN list the great white shark as a vulnerable species, while it is included in Appendix II of CITES.

Description Edit

The great white shark has a robust, large, conical snout. The upper and lower lobes on the tail fin are approximately the same size which is similar to some mackerel sharks.? A great white displays countershading, by having a white underside and a grey dorsal area (sometimes in a brown or blue shade) that gives an overall mottled appearance. The coloration makes it difficult for prey to spot the shark because it breaks up the shark's outline when seen from the side. From above, the darker shade blends with the sea and from below it exposes a minimal silhouette against the sunlight.

Great white sharks, like many other sharks, have rows of serrated teeth behind the main ones, ready to replace any that break off. When the shark bites, it shakes its head side-to-side, helping the teeth saw off large chunks of flesh. Males reach maturity at 3.5–4.0 m (11–13 ft) long and females at 4.5–5.0 m (15–16 ft) 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 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) in weight. The maximum size is subject to debate because some reports are rough estimations or speculations performed under questionable circumstances.

Habitat Edit

Great white sharks live in almost all coastal and offshore waters which have water temperature between 12 and 24 °C (54 and 75 °F), with greater concentrations in the United States (Atlantic Northeast and California), </span>South Africa, Japan, Oceania, Chile, and the Mediterranean One of the densest known populations is found around Dyer Island, South Africa, where almost all of the shark research is done.

According to a recent study, California great whites have migrated to an area between Baja California and Hawaii known as the White Shark Café to spend at least 100 days before migrating back to Baja. On the journey out, they swim slowly and dive down to around 900 m (3,000 ft). After they arrive, they change behavior and do short dives to about 300 m (1,000 ft) for up to ten minutes. Another white shark that was tagged off of the South African coast swam to the southern coast of Australia and back within the year. This refuted traditional theories that white sharks are coastal territorial predators and opens up the possibility of interaction between shark populations that were previously thought to have been discrete. The reasons for their migration and what they do at their destination is still unknown. Possibilities that may support this idea include seasonal feeding or mating. A similar study tracked a great white shark from South Africa swimming to Australia's northwestern coast and back, a journey of 20,000 km (12,000 mi; 11,000 nmi) in under nine months.

Food Edit

Great white sharks are carnivorous and prey upon fish (e.g. tuna, rays, other sharks), cetaceans (i.e., dolphins, porpoises,whales), pinnipeds (e.g. seals, fur seals, and sea lions), sea turtles, sea otters, and seabirds. Great whites have also been known to eat objects that they are unable to digest. Upon approaching a length of nearly 4 meters (13 ft), great white sharks? Begin to target predominately marine mammals for food. These sharks prefer prey with a high content of energy-rich fat. Shark expert Peter Klimley used a rod-and-reel rig and trolled carcasses of a seal, a pig, and a sheep from his boat in the South Farallons. The sharks attacked all three baits but rejected the sheep carcass.

The great white shark's reputation as a ferocious predator is well-earned, yet they are not (as was once believed) indiscriminate "eating machines". They are ambush hunters, taking prey by surprise from below. Near Seal Island, in South Africa's False Bay, shark attacks most often occur in the morning, within 2 hours after sunrise, when visibility is poor. Their success rate is 55% in the first 2 hours, falling to 40% in late morning after which hunting stops.

Behavior Edit

This shark's behavior and social structure is not well understood. In South Africa, white sharks have a dominance hierarchy depending on the size, sex and squatter's rights: Females dominate males, larger sharks dominate smaller sharks, and residents dominate newcomers. When hunting, great whites tend to separate and resolve conflicts with rituals and displays. White sharks rarely resort to combat although some individuals have been found with bite marks that match those of other white sharks. This suggests that when another shark approaches too closely to another great white, they react with a warning bite. Another possibility is that white sharks bite to show their dominance.

The great white shark is one of only a few sharks known to regularly lift its head above the sea surface to gaze at other objects such as prey. This is known as spy-hopping. This behavior has also been seen in at least one group of blacktip reef sharks, but this might be learned from interaction with humans (it is theorized that the shark may also be able to smell better this way because smell travels through air faster than through water). The white sharks are generally very curious animals, display intelligence and may also turn to socializing if the situation demands it. At Seal Island, white sharks have been observed arriving and departing in stable "clans" of two to six individuals on a yearly basis. Whether clan members are related is unknown but they get along peacefully enough. In fact, the social structure of a clan is probably most aptly compared to that of a wolf pack; in that each member has a clearly established rank and each clan has an alpha leader. When members of different clans meet, they establish social rank nonviolently through any of a fascinating variety of interactions.

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