Great White Shark
Great White Shark Introduction:
The Great White Shark is a large species of shark found mainly found inhabiting the temperate and tropical coastal waters worldwide. They are the largest predatory fish species in the world known to grow to lengths of 8 meters or more and weighing over 2 tones.
Great White Sharks are hugely powerful predators that have developed a fearsome reputation as being one of the most prolific “man-eaters” on the planet, with up to half of annual shark attacks on humans being reportedly caused by them.
Also known as White Sharks and White Pointer Sharks. Great White Sharks have been one of the most ruthless ocean predatory fishes for nearly 20 million years, but despite their high-profile reputation, they are actually a lot less common compared to other widely distributed shark species.
Although surprisingly little is still known about their biology and population sizes, it is widely agreed within the scientific community that Great White Shark population numbers are decreasing worldwide as they are threatened by both hunting and habitat loss throughout much of their natural range.
Like almost all shark species, Great White Sharks have a highly distinctive appearance with large, torpedo-shaped bodies and a pointed snout. They have very tough skin that is covered in tiny teeth called denticles that is slate-grey to black in color on the top of their bodies which helps them to remain camouflaged into the rocky, coastal sea floors where they are most commonly found.
The underside of the Great White Shark is white and is what has led to their name. Great White Sharks have powerful, crescent-shaped tail fins that help to propel them through the water at a tremendous speed and are aided by their pectoral (side) fins that are held out in fixed wings to prevent the Great White Shark from sinking.
The large and highly characteristic dorsal (back) fin of the Great White Shark is used to help them to steer through the water, along with diving and helping them to balance. One of the most characteristic features of the Great White Shark is their jaw.
Their mouths are filled with up to 300 serrated, triangular teeth that are arranged in rows and are replaced continuously throughout their lives. Each tooth can grow to around 6 cm in length providing Great White Sharks with a formidable bite when they are attacking their prey.
Keywords to learn
Prolific: Present in large numbers or quantities.
Embryo: An unborn or unhatched offspring in the process of development.
Hey Kids, my name is Grady the Great White Shark and I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species @ http://www.kids.nationalgeographic.com
Key Great White Shark Data:
Lifespan:30 – 40 years.
Scientific Name:Carcharodon carcharias.
Mass:1,110kg – 2,240kg. (2,450lbs – 4,938 lbs)
Length:5.5m – 8m. (18ft – 26ft)
Current population trend:Unknown.
Sexual maturity:17 years.
The Great White Shark is a formidable creature and is one of the main predators in our great oceans. Fish are afraid, very afraid, and so are humans. It’s very important to stay diligent in waters where Great Whites reside. They do not mess around!
Now that you know more about the Great White Shark by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
Download questions about the Great White Shark here: Great White Shark (answers are on this page)
Teachers. For more in depth work sheets on the Great White Shark. Click on Kidskonnect Worksheets
Great White Shark Fun Facts for Kids:
- # 1. Like many other shark species, female Great White Sharks give birth to live young rather than laying eggs. The female Great White Sharks (which are bigger than the males) are thought to reach reproductive age at around the age of 17. After an estimated incubation period of between 12 and 18 months, the female gives birth to between 4 and 14 pups that are roughly 1.2 meters long (or more) at birth.
- # 2. Great White Shark young hatch inside the uterus and are thought to gain their nourishment from eating unfertilized eggs and other embryos until they have developed enough to be born. Female Great White Sharks are thought to have new litters every 2 or 3 years, normally in warm coastal regions where the young have safe nursery grounds in which to grow. However, many of these areas are being threatened by habitat degradation and human interferences to keep Great White Sharks away from regions where people commonly surf and swim.
- # 3. Seals, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins and smaller whales are among their most commonly hunted prey species around the world. Great White Sharks have poor eyesight in comparison to their other senses and use both their sense of smell and ability to detect vibrations caused by animals in the water to detect their prey. Once located, Great White Sharks fiercely attack with great speed and force before retreating and leaving their wounded prey to weaken before returning to feed once it is safe to do so.
- # 4. The Great White Shark is the largest predatory fish in the ocean and one of the most formidable aquatic hunters in the world and so naturally, very few animals would prey upon fully grown Great White Sharks. The smaller and more vulnerable juveniles however, are more threatened by large ocean predators including Killer Whales and other shark species.
- # 5. The biggest threats to global populations of Great White Sharks are those caused by people. Great Whites are hunted for their jaws, teeth and fins by fishermen and trophy hunters and are also sometimes accidentally caught in nets fishing for other species such as Tuna. Beaches that has been meshed to protect swimmers from shark attacks and habitat degradation throughout their natural range has also contributed to the global decline in their population numbers.
- # 1. What do the pectoral fins on a Great White Shark prevent from happening?
- # 2. How many teeth can a Great White Shark have?
- # 3. How much does a Great White Shark weigh in pounds?
- # 4. Name 3 animals commonly hunted by the Great White Shark.
- # 5. What causes humans to be the biggest threat to the Great White Shark?