The Great White Shark is a sentient and intelligent predator not to be underestimated as it can be potentially lethal, … but it also deserves our honor and respect!

Tthe Great White Shark, seldom seen by most, has been a little known and greatly feared creature inhabiting the worlds oceans. Throughout history the Great White Shark has obtained an almost mythical status, that of a monsterously fierce predator with a predisposition for attacking humans. Human fear, ignorance, indifference, and greed have led to a general misconception of this great animal and its needs, as well as its place in the balance of nature. Though difficult to study in its vast ocean home, dedicated individuals and organizations have learned quite a bit about this great creature over the last few decades.

Scientific Name: Carcharodon carcharias

What’s in the name ?

Sharks in Captivity:About the Great White Shark

Great White Sharks are usually only brought into captivity because they are sick or injured.

Great White Sharks are not usually kept in captivity as they do not survive long. Here are two documented examples of these sharks successfully being put into a captive situation and then released.

  1. A young female shark at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA where she was kept for 198 days from September 2004 until released in March 2005.
  2. Another female shark brought to the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco, CA in August 1980 where she was kept for 72 hours and then released.

Dr. Jungle, “This is the ONLY top predator that has not been kept in captivity or tamed by man!”

Monterey Bay Aquarium:
White Shark Research Project

Caught in a commercial fishing net in August 2004, a young female Great White Shark was received by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and this is what they report about her.
…”She was tagged and held in an ocean pen until September 14. She remained in good health and was transported to Monterey and placed in the Outer Bay exhibit. During her 198 days in the aquarium’s million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit, she grew from a length of 5 feet and a weight of 62 pounds to a length at release of 6-feet-4½ inches and a weight of 162 pounds. “The shark was tagged and successfully released back to the wild in March 2005.”… Monterey Bay Aquarium.

To learn more about this shark in captivity, visit the aquarium’s
White Shark Research Project

by R. Aidan Martin

Director of the ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research, a Research Associate of the Zoology Department of the University of British Columbia, and an Adjunct Professor of the Oceanographic Center of Nova Southeastern University.

The main topic of Mr. Martin’s article is electroreception, an acute sensitivity to electrical fields demonstrated by sharks and rays. In his article he discusses the unique opportunity “Sandy”, a healthy female Great White Shark in temporary captivity, provided to learn more about it. Here he tells us about her brief stay at the Aquarium.
“The 72-hour captivity of a 7.5-foot (2.3-metre), 300-pound (136-kilogram) female White Shark at San Francisco’s Steinhart Aquarium during August 1980 provided an unexpected opportunity to measure the electrosensitivity of this species. Dubbed ‘Sandy’, the juvenile Great White was displayed in Steinhart’s torus-shaped ‘fish roundabout’, becoming an instant media celebrity and drawing some 40,000 visitors to the Aquarium over a three-and-a-half-day period. By the fourth day of her captivity, Aquarium director John McCosker noticed that Sandy continually collided with a particular five-degree arc of the tank.”…R. Aidan Martin

To learn more about “Sandy” at
the Steinhart Aquarium
Read Mr. Martin’s article:


Distribution: The Great White Shark is found throughout the world’s oceans, mostly in cool coastal waters. They can cover great distances and larger sharks have been seen journeying across the great ocean basins.
The number of these sharks in not known but their numbers are believed to be declining. Individuals identified by scars and other markings, or tagged, have been observed returning for several years to the same locality while many of the tagged sharks simply disappear.

Though generally solitary animals, they are occasionally seen traveling in pairs.

Size: A very large species of shark, the Great White is the largest of the aggressive meat-eating sharks followed by the Tiger Shark. It is not known how large this shark can get, but the largest one recorded was 21′ long (6.4 m) and weighed 3312 kg. Newborn shark pups are about 4′ – 5′ (122 – 152 cm) long, with the smallest one measured at 47″ (119 cm). Most Great White Sharks average about 12 – 16′ (3.7-4.9 m) long with the larger ones being found in south Australia.

Description: The Great White Shark has a torpedo-shaped body with a pointed snout, five gill slits, and a powerful crescent shaped tail which propels them through the water. They are grey on the top and white undermeath. Their three main fins, the dorsal on top and two pectoral fins, are used for balance. Four other minor fins; a small dorsal fin close to the tail, a pair of small pelvic fins, and a tiny anal fin, help with the way water flows over the sharks body. Their skeletons are made of cartilage rather than bone.
They can have up to 3000 teeth at any one time arranged in rotating rows that move up to replace ones that become worn out or broken. The teeth are triangular with serrations on the sides. Those on top are used for grabbing and tearing their food, while the bottom teeth presumeably act more like spears that hold the food securely in place.
Sharks are heavier than water and will sink if they don’t keep moving. Though they do have a large oily liver which gives them some floating ability, they don’t have a gas filled swim bladder like the bony fishes do. They also cannot swim backwards or come to an abrupt stop.

Swimming: The Great White Shark is a graceful efficient swimmer. They will cruise along the bottom or close to the water’s surface, seldom swimming at midwater depths. They can also make fantastic leaps out of the water.
They are not the fastest swimming shark in the ocean, that skill is found in the Shortfin Mako Shark Isurus oxyrinchs, which can swim up to 60 miles (96.5 kilometers) per hour. The Great White Shark usually cruises at about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) per hour, but can make quick short pursuits at about 15 miles (24 kilometers) per hour.

Feeding: To obtain food they use primarily two senses; an extremely acute sense of smell, and an incredible keen ability, called electroreception, to sense electrical fields that are generated by all animals. These electrical fields are emitted by simple things such as skin coming in contact with the water, a contracted muscle, or the flow of blood into the water from a wound.
The young sharks eat rays, other sharks, and some fish. As they get larger they eat larger foods such as tuna and other big fish, small toothed whales, and sea turtles, but are noted as being especially fond of pinnipeds (sea lions and seals).

There are no natural predators of the Great White Shark, they are at the top of the food chain.

Great White Sharks are opportunistic feeders but they also eat carcasses they find, especially large whales, and will snack on fish caught on the lines and nets of fishermen.
They swim along the bottom, and come up to their chosen prey from underneath in a quick burst of speed, often leaping out of the water. They usually attack their food fiercely and then often wait a bit after the initial attack to grab the food consume it. They do not chew their food, but rather use their teeth to rip it into mouth sized pieces which they swallow whole. One big meal can satisfy a shark for up to 2 months.

There are some critters they don’t like to eat!

They don’t eat sea birds. They have been seen coming up beneath them and bouncing them up in the air like a ball, but they don’t eat them. They also don’t eat Sea Otters. Though they will often bite them, sometimes fatally, they have not yet been found in a shark’s belly.

Though not much is yet known about the mating behavior of these sharks, females reach maturity at about 10-12 years bearing their first young at about 12-14 years old. These sharks are oviviparous so the eggs are fertilized in the female, they will hatch within the female too. There is no placenta so the young get no nourishment from the mother, rather they eat unfertilized eggs and smaller siblings. The female gives birth to 2 – 14 fully formed pups which are on their own as soon as they are born.
Newborn shark pups are about 4′ – 5′ (122 – 152 cm) long and will grow about 10″ (25 cm) a year to maturity.


great white shark in the water
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

White Sharks Need ProtectionHow to Help

Great White Sharks are globally threatened by human activities.

The Great White Sharks are rare and it is believed they are decreasing in numbers. Threats to this shark include fisheries, accidental entrapment, and disruption of food.

  1. The World Wildlife Fund considers the Great White Shark to be among the top 10 “most wanted” species in international markets. They have been primarily hunted for the curio trade and for sport fisheries. The jaws and individual teeth can fetch very high prices, a complete preserved set of jaws have been sold for up to $50,000.
  2. Accidental entrapment occurs from their opportunistic feeding of fishes caught on commercial longlines and nets, and in anti-shark beach netting installed along some coasts to protect bathers. Sharks obtained from accidental catch have had a limited use in the food markets.
  3. Because of the d isruption of food, in degraded areas where there has been a disruption of prey, the Great White Shark also declines. Possibly they are moving to better feeding areas.

Dr. Jungle says, “Your consumer choices and how we interact with the Great White Shark are the keys to a future where our oceans are healthy, and rich with this shark as well as all the other ocean wildlife.”

Ways in which you can make good choices:

Buy sustainable seafoods!
Monterey Bay Aquarium provides a useful pocket guide to help you choose sustainable seafood when grocery shopping.

Get your FREE pocket guide here:
Seafood Watch Pocket Guide

“White Shark Diving “
Shark diving and cage diving to view Great White Sharks as well as other sharks, have become important ‘sport’ industries in some parts of the world. Wonderful activities for those interested in having the opportunity to view these animals in their natural habitat. Both the sharks and people clearly benefit in many ways. Former game or commercial fishermen have a more passive interaction and yet still a profitable incentive. It also affords researchers another method by which to observe the natural social behaviors as well as other more complex behaviors of sharks.

Great White Shark diving opportunities are offered at a variety of locations including Dyer Island, South Africa, Isla de Guadalupe, Mexico, and the Farallon Islands from San Francisco.

Some conservation efforts have been put into effect:

  1. The Great White Sharks are a protected species along the coasts of California, USA, Australia, and South Africa.
  2. Great White Sharks gained protection in October 2004 under a global wildlife treaty approved by the U.N.-affiliated Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) requiring a controlled system of permits for all international trade in white shark parts and products.

Under the new CITES regulations trade will be closely monitored, and may be banned altogether if white shark numbers keep declining.


Great White Shark and a Blonde, Carcharodon carcharias

Report Broken Video
Not the monster we always think of!

This video is just a beautiful example of how proper posturing and touch will allow interaction with a Great White Shark. (not our title, just copied) These large fish often ignore humans, unless they are feeding and are “sampling” the weird person-fish out of curiosity. Great Whites often bite surfers near where sea lions live, mistaking them for prey, however the sharks do not pursue and eat a human since they don’t like how we taste. In a calm setting, a Great White can be interacted with if a person is calm, trained and it is NOT the shark’s feeding time!

Scientific Classification

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Featured Image Credit: Gerald Schömbs, Unsplash