Great White Sharks

by Tien V.

Size:

Great Whites average 12-16 feet long. The biggest Great White Shark on record was 23 feet long, weighing about 7,000 pounds. Females are larger than males, as with most sharks. Shark pup can be over 5 feet long at birth.

 

Food & Feeding Behavior:

White sharks are predatory animals that begin life by feeding on fish, rays, and other sharks as they grow, switch to feeding on marine mammals and scavenging on large animal carcasses. Their first mammalian preys are usually the small harbor seal, but as the sharks increase in size, they become large enough to eat sea lions, elephant seals, and small toothed whales. Attack strategy consists of a swift, surprise attack from below, inflicting a large, potentially fatal bite. They will occasionally feed on sea turtles and sea otters, and are known to attack, but not eat, humans.

 

Diet & Feeding Habits:

Young Great White Sharks eat fish, rays, and other sharks. Adults eat larger prey including sea lions, seals, small toothed whales, otters, and sea turtles. They also eat dead animals that they have found floating dead in the water. Great Whites do not chew their food. Their teeth rip prey into mouth-sized pieces which are swallowed whole. A big meal can satisfy a Great White for up to two months.

 

Habitat & Distribution:

The waters off central California offer a lot of food for the Great White, and every summer and fall they actively feed in near shore areas. The Farallon Islands is a common feeding ground for these sharks. In the summer the sharks feed on seals and sea lions along the coast as far north as Oregon and occasionally the Gulf of Alaska, and in the fall, they turn south and feed along the offshore islands. It is believed that female white sharks migrate to southern California to give birth to their offspring.

Reproduction:

Great White Sharks give birth to 2-14 fully-formed pups that are up to 5 feet long. Like all sharks, fertilization of the eggs occurs in the female. The eggs hatch in the female and are nourished by eating unfertilized eggs and smaller siblings in the womb. They swim away from the mother immediately after birth.

 

Status:

Great Whites are decreasing in numbers and are rare due to years of being hunted by men. They are a protected species along the coasts of California, USA, Australia, and South America.  

 

Photo Credits:

http://www.sanctuaries.nos.noaa.gov/news/

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