Measuring up to 20 feet long and measuring up to 7,040 pounds, the great white shark has supposedly been around for many millennia. Yet, this mammal it kills fewer people than bees do. So why does the great white shark have such a reputation as a ferocious killer?
Due to its streamlining ability and pectoral fins that provide lift, the great white shark can swim all day without getting tired. If it does stop moving, it will not be able to force oxygenated water through its gills, and it will drown. Further, the shark’s streamlining ability helps it to conserve energy for hunting.
The great white tracks prey using its lateral line system, which “feels” the waves created by moving prey, and its ability to sense blood. It stalks prey for months before going in for the kill. Unlike what films sometimes depict, great whites are not mindless killers controlled purely by their instincts. Instead, they are very intelligent creatures. For instance, they do not kill many people. Most humans survive great white shark attacks with a lost appendage at most. Moreover, when a great white shark attacks, its eyes roll back into its head to protect them. Its jaws open wide to reveal a bed of up to three inches of serrated teeth. After the shark saws at its prey, it may return for more if it likes the taste. It might surprise some to learn that great white sharks work together while hunting.
The great white shark lives in temperate oceans around 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, like around Southern Africa, Japan, Australia, the Mediterranean, Northern America, and New Zealand. The great white is the only shark that attacks warm-blooded animals, so rocky islands and headlands that are home to seals attract the big mammals, especially during seal breeding season.
Because of the great white shark's keen ability to kill and its overall demeanor, it has a reputation. But no matter its image and depictions of it-no matter their accuracy-the great white shark is a wonder of nature.