Their ancestry dates back more than 400 million years, and they are one of evolution’s greatest success stories.
These animals are uniquely adapted to their ocean environment with six highly refined senses of smell, hearing, touch, taste, sight, and even electromagnetism.
As the top predators in the ocean, great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) face only one real threat to their survival: us. The assaults are many. By-catch: the accidental killing of sharks by fishermen’s longlines and trawlers. Illegal poaching: selling shark fins for soup. Illegal hunting: sportsfishing for shark jaws as trophies. Nets: placed along coastlines to keep sharks away from beaches. Pollution: toxins and heavy metals that build up in the shark’s body. In some areas great white populations have plummeted by over 70%. If not stopped, it could lead to the extinction of this ancient species.
Great whites have some of the fastest healing rates known in the animal kingdom, with a strong tolerance to injury and illness.
Great White Sharks can travel through the water at speeds of up to 50 – 60 km per hour this makes them one of the best apex hunters in the Marine Ecosystem.
Scientists have recently mentioned that they believe that there are less than 5 000 Great White Sharks left on the planet, and recent estimates suggest that 2 000 of these sharks are to be found along the South African coastal waters.
South Africa boasts one of the largest concentrations of Great White Sharks in the world.
Great White Sharks are partially warm-blooded to adapt to contrasting water temperatures. This enables them to be equally at home in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the warmer water of the Indian Ocean and tropical waters whilst migrating.
Great White Sharks are migratory animals and can travel vast distances in short periods of time. A tagged female shark was once tracked swimming from False Bay to Australia’s coast and back. (This journey was +/- 20 000 km and travelled within 9 months!)
Great White Sharks are born live and that the newborn pup is self-sufficient at birth. Great White Sharks are ovoviparous, which means the eggs are fertilised in the female’s uterus, where they also develop and hatch while still in the womb. After a gestation period thought to be 12 – 18 months, the females may give live birth to 2-8 fully formed pups measuring between 1,2 and 1,6m.
Great whites have up to 300 serrated, triangular teeth arranged in rows. When they lose or damage a tooth and replaced by a new one. It is believed that a Great white may lose up to 30 000 teeth in its lifetime.