Great white sharkshave a wide range that includes tropical waters and cold temperate waters in the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. They feed primarily on seals, dolphins, sea lions and whales, although their diet also includes birds, reptiles and fish. Their lifespan in the wild ranges from 30 to 40 years.
Great white sharkshave light or dark gray upper bodies and white bellies. They have snouts that are more pointed and longer than other shark species, as well as a powerful tail that helps them swim fast. Their mouths contain around 300 teeth, which they use to hold and feed on prey simultaneously. Adult great white sharks measure between 13 and 22 feet in length and weigh an average of 5,000 pounds.
Femalegreat white sharkscan breed every two years, although the exact breeding season remains unknown. Following a gestation period of 14 months, during which the offspring develop as fertilized eggs, females give birth to an average of seven pups. The newborn sharks do not receive any parental care and reach maturity at 14 to 16 years of age for females and 9 to 10 years of age for males.
While somegreat white sharksremain solitary, others sometimes gather in groups and even form social hierarchies. They use body language to communicate with other members of the group and engage in activities such as parallel swimming and splash fighting. Great white sharks rely mainly on their sense of smell to find prey and also use specialized senses that detect electrical impulses. Although these sharks have been known to bite humans, these bites are usually not fatal and are mostly done out of curiosity.
While great white sharks still occur in most of their widespread historic range, their numbers are declining overall. The movie “Jaws” led to increased targeting of this species in the mid-1970s. They have also been hunted for their fins.
The great white shark is listed as vulnerable, although exact population numbers are not known. The main threats to the species include being captured by trophy hunters, recreational fishermen and commercial fisheries. Great white sharks are protected under legislation in some areas, including Australia, South Africa, the United States and Malta.
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