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The Great White Shark - The World's Largest Underwater Predator
The World's Largest Predatory Fish - The Great White Shark
The most feared animal all over the world, the Great White Shark is undeniably the biggest monster in the current history of the world. It is an animal which some people have a phobia for; and for those of use who have never seenthem, hearing about them sends an andrenaline through our spines.
Neverteless, it is good to know more about this underwater mammal of which some facts will make you reconsider why this animal is called a killer machine.
The world’s largest predatory fish, it measures at a length of 12-16 feet reaching to lengths of 19-21 feet with 300 teeth located in its mouth looking like razor-shaped dagger. It is no wonder this shark is the most feared animal in the world. This animal can use and lose more than 100 teeth in its lifetime.
It has earned several nicknames due to its menacing face and huge figure coupled with terrifying news surrounding it. It is known by other names such as a killer machine, man-eater, white pointer, blue pointer and manila shark. 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 there are reports which indicate of Great white sharks exceeding the average weight to weigh 3,175kg.
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 rarely cases, there are Great white sharks whose teeth have exceeded such lengths to reaching 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 it 300 or 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 have put the number to over 300, the teeth a Great white shark can lose 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.” (Sharks-world)
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 the prey as the shark does not chew meat. An adult shark can swallow the whole of a prey or in large bites.
Male and female white sharks mature at different times. Males mature or become adults at around 9-years while females mature lately at 13-15 years. The females breed late in their lives at about 20 years.
There is so much that 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.”
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 o n 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 between 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.
It should be noted there is no placenta to nourish the pups. In order to survive the pups eat unfertilized eggs or their siblings to stay alive. When the female gives birth, the pup swims away. There is no waiting, no maternal care. It is a strange way for a baby to be born to the world by starting to fend for itself without mother’s help including caring.
The Attack Strategy
The Great white shark has been able to perfect its hunting skills for thousands of years to perfect it to the level of a ‘fast and furious’ predator.
The white shark waits for an unsuspecting prey from below the surface of the water. When it sights one, it swims quickly towards it from below and behind, ramming or striking on the unsuspecting prey thereby stunning it. However, before it retreats to wait for the prey to die, it has already taken- a large bite, as they shake and spin their bodies in order to weaken them. When the prey has died, it feeds on the carcass by swallowing either the whole of the prey or large bites of the prey’s flesh.
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 its prey, it cannot see the prey as their eyes roll into the sockets. This is to protect the eye from damage or scratch as the mammals they attack for a meal are huge and have teeth and claws such as elephant seals.
Even though they are predators, sharks receive injuries from their preys as they attack them for food.
It is believed by scientists that after a big meal. The Great white can stay for three months without needing another meal.
It should be observed the Great whites have perfected their hunting skills powered by their high receptive senses including electromagnetic sense. A great white shark can sense vibration of a prey’s heart beat hundred of miles away including their powerful sense of smell. They can smell a tiny drop of blood hundred of miles away.
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 fish is reputed for attacking humans without mercy. What many do not know is that this fish has interesting aspect in contrast to its fearsome weight and height. When it realizes it has attacked a human being it leaves him/her alone, knowing it miscalculated or did a mistake in confusing the man from the animals it feeds on such as 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 fish is that they do not fight for food which could be consumed by or fit one of them. In case two sharks happened 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 thereby directing the splash to the other shark. The shark that will claim the prize on the food 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. 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 as long as the average years of a human being, 70 years.
It is estimated according to scientists that 10,000 Great White Sharks are alive in the entire world. This is as a result of their being hunted in great numbers. Man is the number one predator and the sole cause of the few numbers of white sharks as they are sought for their teeth and fat.