Basking Shark
Whale Shark
Basking Shark
Great White
Tiger Shark
Thresher Shark
Shortfin Mako
Blue Shark
Porbeagle Shark
Sand Tiger Shark
Sharpnose Shark
Oceanic Whitetip
Dusky Shark
Smooth Hammerhead
Portuguese
Rough Sagre
Smooth Dogfish
Spiny Dogfish
Black Dogfish

Great White Shark

HOME TYPES SPECIES FACTS BODY POPULATION BEHAVIOR HISTORY
MYTHS DANGERS TALES HELP GALLERY GUESTBOOK LINKS WHALES

The Great White Shark
Carcharodon carcharias

Photo modified from Sharks. L Campagno, C Simpfendorfer, JE McCosker, K Holland, C Lowe, B Wetherbee, A Bush, and C Meyer. 1998 Readers Digest Series. Weldon Owen Pty Ltd., Pleasantville, NY

   The white shark is also commonly known as the great white shark. It is a solitary predator that can grow up to 6.6 meters (21 feet) in length. Although this is the largest confirmed report of a white shark, indirect evidence suggests that there may be specimens off of southern Australia which are 8 meters (26 feet) in length.

   The white shark is a robust, torpedo-shaped shark. The upper and lower lobes of the caudal fin are about even in size, and its serrated triangular teeth are virtually symmetrical. Despite its name the white shark is only white on its underside; the top of the shark is grey to black or blue.

Diet

   The white shark preys upon a variety of fishes and marine mammals. Fish such as salmon, hake, halibut, mackerel and tunas are common prey, as are marine mammals such as harbor porpoises and harbor seals. However whites also eat other sharks, sea turtles and seabirds. They may also feed upon blubber from dead whale carcasses. Examination of the stomach contents of one great white caught off Deer Island, New Brunswick revealed three porpoises within it.

Reproduction

   This shark is ovoviviparous. Females give birth to 4 to 14 live pups and may only reproduce 4 to 6 litters in a lifetime. White sharks reach sexual maturity at 10 to 12 years of age.

Habitat

   The white shark inhabits coastal and offshore waters of the continental shelf. Periodically it will wander into bays and harbours. This shark also inhabits waters around oceanic islands. The great white shark occurs in surface waters and down to a depth of 1280 meters (4,240 feet).

White shark captured off PEI in 1983. Photos courtesy of Jack Woolner and Tom Hurlbut.

Range

   The white shark has a worldwide range along the continental margins of all temperate seas and part of the tropics. In Atlantic Canadian waters it is rare, but has been caught off Deer Island in the Bay of Fundy and off Campobello Island, New Brunswick. A 5-meter (17') white was caught off of PEI in 1983. Based on the growth bands in the vertebra, this shark appears to have been about 16 years old.

Great White

Distinguishing Characteristics

  • Serrated triangular teeth
  • Lobes of caudal fin of about equal size
  • Caudal keel
  • Black spot may be present at axil of pectoral fin
  • Lunate tail


Photo of tooth modified from Sharks, History and Biology of the Lords of the Sea.
A. Mojetta. 1997. Swan Hill Press.


Back

HOME TYPES SPECIES FACTS BODY POPULATION BEHAVIOR HISTORY
MYTHS DANGERS TALES HELP GALLERY GUESTBOOK LINKS WHALES