The Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) is the shark of all sharks. It is beautifully streamlined to slip through the water with minimum effort. Its enormous size, powerful jaws that can extend almost like an outreaching hand, rows of large triangular teeth, and jet-black eyes make it one of the most feared creatures on the planet. It is the ultimate super predator.
Great White Sharks seem to be strongly visual predators and are the only fish known to spy-hop; lifting their heads out of the water, apparently to look around for prey.
They will hunt deep diving Cape Fur Seals, but most of their attacks take place on the surface without warning, from below and behind. They can even breach right out of the water in pursuit of prey. Their teeth hit first and they protect their eyes from the prey’s flailing claws and teeth by rolling them back into their sockets. Seal Island in False Bay, South Africa, is home to the “flying” Great White Sharks, an area where this behavior can be seen nowhere else on earth on such a regular basis. For such large massive animals, Great White Sharks are astonishingly athletic, combining speed, agility and acrobatics when doing their airborne attacks.
When viewing the Great White Sharks by boat, the sharks natural curiosity can result in awesome, thrilling and relatively safe encounters, with these celebrated apex predators.
After many years of sport fishing and persecution, the Great White Shark is now quite rare. However, it is now one of the most widely protected sharks in the world.
Alternative names for the Great White Shark are:
- white shark;
- white pointer,
- white death.
The Great White Shark has been responsible for more attacks on humans than any other shark species. According to the international shark attack file worldwide, between 1580-2002 there have been more than 254 attacks on humans, of which 69 or 27% have been fatal. Surfers, divers, swimmers and kayakers have been the most likely victims.
Great WhiteSharks are found in mainly cold to temperate waters worldwide, with temperatures in mainly 14-22°C range. They frequent mainly coastal areas but will enter the surf and shallow bays. They are often found near land where seals and sea lions congregate. Larger sharks have been known to travel across open oceans and occasionally appear around oceanic islands.
Where to see Great White Sharks:
- Mexico: Guadalupe Islands,
- Baja California;
- South Africa: False Bay, Mossel Bay and Dyer Island;
- Australia: Dangerous Reef; North & South Neptune Islands:
- USA: Farallon Islands, California