- Common names: Great White Shark, Great White, White Shark, White Pointer.
- Family: Lamnidae
- Scientific name: Carcharodon carcharias
- Size: Great White Sharks can reach up to 7.3 m in length (as per the largest White Shark ever caught on camera in Guadeloupe) and weigh up to 2.5 tons. The males reach sexual maturity between 3.5 and 4.1 m, and the females at a much larger size of 4 and 5 m.
- Coloration: The dorsal surface ranges from dark grey to light brown, while the underside is white.
- Range/Distribution: The Great White Shark is one of the most widely distributed of all sharks and has been sighted in almost every region of the globe from cold seas to the tropics, and from coastal to oceanic seas. They are mainly found between the latitudes of 60° North and 60° South, in waters ranging in temperature between 14° C and 24° C. The highest concentrations of Great Whites are found in the vicinity of Cape Fur Seal colonies.
- Reproduction: Female Great Whites give birth to between 2 and 10 live young at a time (pups), ranging from 1.1 to 1.65 m in length, after a gestation period of around 14 to 18 months.
- Body temperature: Great White Sharks have a counter-current heat exchange system that enables it to keep vital organs up to 14°C warmer than the surrounding water.
- Swimming speed: During ocean crossings, Great Whites keep a minimum sustained speed of around 4.7 km per hour, but they are capable of reaching speeds of up to 50 km per hour in short bursts.
- Teeth: Great Whites have 26 broad triangular-shaped and serrated teeth in each row of the upper jaw, and 24 more pointed teeth in
- the lowerjaw rows. Great Whites can loose and replace up to 3000 teeth in its life time.
- Prey: Cape Fur Seals, other sharks, rays, bony fish, dolphins and whales, are the preferred meal choices for Great Whites. Their diet does change between the seasons.
- Hunting: During the winter seasons of the coast of Cape Town, in the False Bay area specifically, the White Shark will breach the water from the depths in its pursuit of prey, as a hunting technique, which has fascinated people the world over.
- Threats: Being preserved as the “apex predator” of the ocean, one would be excused in thinking that this creature has no threats; where in fact it faces two very real threats; 1. Humans and 2. Orcas or killer whales
- Defence: Great White Sharks will produce a pheromone that they release into the water, when they feel threatened or are killed, this pheromone is very distinct and pungent to other Great Whites and it basically tells them to “vacate the area”, which they will do, and sometimes as far as 160km for up to 10 to 12 weeks at a time.
- The Most Famous Great White Sharks: Deep Blue, the 7.3 meter female caught on camera off Guadeloupe. Colossus, the shy 5.5 meter bull (male), a regular visitor to False Bay’s Seal Island and finally Lucy, a 5.1 meter female who also calls Guadeloupe home.
Till we meet again, keep that toothy grin!
By Nadine Bentley