|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Serrated triangular teeth
- Lobes of caudal fin of about equal
- Caudal keel
- Black spot may be present at axil of
- Lunate tail
Photo of tooth modified from Sharks, History
and Biology of the Lords of the Sea.
A. Mojetta. 1997. Swan Hill