The Great White Shark - The World's Largest Underwater Predator
The World's Largest Predatory Fish - The Great White Shark
It is undeniably the most feared animal due to its immense figure, menacing face and its razor-shaped teeth. In fact, many people have developed a phobia for this mammal. Nonetheless, many of the stories about white sharks are not true. Even though it is a dangerous animal, it doesn't kill many people - on a yearly basis - as compared to annual deaths resulting from dogs' bites in the United States.
Due to the myths that surround this animal and some of the few facts about it, the great white shark has earned the nickname 'a killer machine.' Other names associated with it are: man-eater, white pointer and blue pointer. In the scientific field it is referred to as Carcharodon Carcharias.
Length and Weight of Great White Shark
The average length of the Great white shark is 11-13 feet though it can exceed to reach lengths of 25 feet. The average weight is 1500-1814kg though they can exceed the average weight. One such instance is a great white which weighed 3,175kg.
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The Composition of Great White Shark’s Teeth
An adult Great white shark’s teeth measures one-and-half inches to two inches long though in rare cases their teeth can reach to lengths of two-and-half inches long.
What is perhaps feared the most of this animal more than its menacing figure is its teeth. The teeth are long, razor-shaped and the edges are serrated. The teeth are triangular in shape.
So, how many teeth do Great white sharks have? There are conflicting figures as to the number of teeth a Great white shark have though they would seem to indicate the minimum number of teeth sharks have is between 300 to 3,000. Most reports seem to indicate the Great white shark has 3,000 teeth. However, one fact is true that Great whites can lose more than 100 teeth in its lifetime. There are studies which state the Great white can lose over 300 teeth in its lifetime.
Shark’s-world states, “The amount of teeth that sharks have vary according to the species, from 5 to 15 rows of teeth in each jaw. Sharks teeth take about one week to fall, as they do not have roots to hold them as human teeth. When they fall, the tooth behind moves to replace them. The teeth grow in rows as the back rows move forward. This is in order to replace the lost teeth or the old ones.This process does not take more than 24 hours.”
An interesting fact about the Great white’s jaws is that they are not fixed or firmly held as those of human beings. The upper and lower jaws move separately. This allows the shark to have a firm grip of the prey as the lower jaw moves forward. This way, the shark is able to take large bites of a prey. The Great white shark does not chew meat. It bites a large piece of its prey's meat.
Howstuffworks clearly explains how this process takes place: “The great white shark is ovoviviparous, which means that the shark grows in an egg, which is then hatched inside the mother. Shortly thereafter, the shark pup is born. While in the womb, great white shark embryos feast on unfertilized eggs, a practice known as oophagy. It doesn’t appear that they eat the fertilized eggs, as a few other species of shark has been known to do, but they may swallow their own teeth when they lose them for calcium.”
The gestation period of a female white shark is unknown though scientists place the duration between 12 to 18 months. A female white shark gives birth to 2-10 pups though there are records of females giving birth to a litter size of more than 15 pups. The pups weigh 35kg at a length of 5 feet at birth.
Male and female white sharks mature at different times. Males mature earlier than females. They mature at around 9 years while females mature at the age of 13-15 years. The females breed late, in their early 20s.
So much is unknown about white sharks especially their reproductive process. The little known fact about the female white shark is that it gives birth through the process known as ovoviviparous. This is explained by Dictionary.com as “producing eggs that are hatched within the body, so that the young are born alive but without placental attachment, as certain reptiles or fishes.”
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The Attack Strategy
The Great white shark has been able to perfect its hunting skills for thousands of years. Thus, due its lightening attack strategy, this shark can as well be termed as a ‘fast and furious’ predator.
When the white sharks sights a prey, it swims quickly towards it striking the unsuspecting prey from below and behind the water. Due its fast and unsuspecting attack, the prey bleeds to death as a result of being stunned from being attacked unknowingly. Before it retreats to wait for the prey to die, the shark will have torn a large chunk of the prey's meat. It does this by shaking and spinning the prey. When the prey dies, it feeds on the carcass by swallowing either the whole of the prey or taking large bites of the prey's meat.
White sharks normally swim at 2 miles per hour but when they want to attack or catch a prey, they swim at a speed of 15mph.
When the white shark attacks the prey, it cannot see the prey as it rolls its eyes into the sockets. This is to protect the eye from getting damaged or scratched.
It is believed by scientists that after a big meal the Great White can stay for three months without eating.
It should be observed the Great whites have perfected their hunting skills for many years assisted with their high receptive senses including electromagnetic sense. A Great White shark can sense vibration of a prey’s heart beat hundred of kilometers away and can smell a prey at such great lengths.
Misconceptions and Interesting Facts of Great White Shark
One of the misconceptions surrounding the Great White Shark is that it is a monster. According to observations and studies done on this shark, it is not the case. This mammal is reputed for attacking humans without mercy. What many do not know is that the Great White shark has interesting aspects in contrast to its fearsome figure. When it realizes it has attacked a human being it leaves him/her alone knowing it miscalculated in confusing the man from the animals it normally feeds on. The sea animals it feeds on include sea lion and elephant seal which have a lot of fat as opposed to humans whose bodies are composed of more bones than fat.
An interesting fact about this mammal is that they do not fight for food which could be consumed by or fit one of them. In case two sharks happen to find the food at the same time, they would enter into a contest to see who would go away with the food. The two sharks swim against each other, slapping the water with their tails as they direct the splash of water to each other. The shark that will claim the prize is the one that delivers the most tail slaps. The more the tail slaps the higher the chance to win a meal that they would otherwise have injured themselves beyond repair fighting for. It is kind of lottery game.
Another interesting fact about the Great White Shark is that it normally consumes about 11 tons of food and their lifespan is about 25 years though some reports state they can live up to the average life of a human being, 70 years.
It is estimated around 10,000 Great White Sharks are alive in the entire world. The reason for there low population is attributed to man hunting them for their tooth and fat.
© 2011 Alianess Benny Njuguna