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Great White Shark


Great White Shark

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The great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, also known as great white, white pointer, white shark, or white death, is an exceptionally large lamniform shark found in coastal surface waters in all major oceans. Reaching lengths of more than 6 metres (20 ft) and weighing up to 2,240 kilograms (4,938 lb), the great white shark is arguably the world’s largest known predatory fish. It is the only surviving species of its genus, Carcharodon.


Carolus Linnaeus gave the great white shark its first scientific name, Squalus carcharias in 1758. Sir Andrew Smith gave it the generic name Carcharodon in 1833, and in 1873 the generic name was identified with Linnaeus’ specific name and the current scientific name Carcharodon carcharias was finalised. Carcharodon comes from the Greek words karcharos, which means sharp or jagged, and odous, which means tooth.

Related species

The great white is classified as a mackerel shark (Lamnidae). There are four other living species in this family, two mako and two Lamna sharks.

Great white sharks live in almost all coastal and offshore waters which have a water temperature of between 12 °C (54 °F) and 24 °C (75 °F), but they have been found in waters down to 12 C, with greater concentrations off the southern coasts of Australia, off South Africa, California, Mexico’s Isla Guadalupe and to a degree in the Central Mediterranean, Adriatic Seas and New Zealand [5], where they are a protected species. One of the densest known populations is found around Dyer Island, South Africa where much research on the shark is conducted. It can be also sometimes found in tropical waters like those of the Caribbean, and has been recorded off Mauritius, Madagascar, Kenya, the Seychelles and even the colder September waters of Massachusetts.[6] It is an epipelagic fish, but recorded or observed mostly in inland tributaries in the presence of rich game like fur seals, sea lions, cetaceans, other sharks and large bony fish species. It is considered an open-ocean dweller and is recorded from the surface down to depths of 1,280 m (4,200 ft), but is most often found close to the surface.

In a recent study, great white sharks from California were shown to migrate to an area between Baja California and Hawaii known as White Shark Café, where they spend at least 100 days of the year before they migrate back to Baja. On the journey out, they swim slowly and dive down to around 900 m (3,000 ft). After they arrive, they change behaviour and do short dives to about 300 m (980 ft) for up to 10 minutes. Another white shark tagged off the coast of South Africa swam to the southern coast of Australia and back within the space of a year. This had disproved traditional theories of white sharks being coastal territorial predators and opens up the possibility of interaction between white shark populations that were previously thought to be discrete from one another, and it is still unknown why they migrate and what they do at their destination; it might be seasonal feeding or possibly a mating area.]

In a similar study a great white shark from South Africa was tracked swimming to the northwestern coast of Australia and back to the same location in South Africa, a journey of 20,000 km (12,000 mi) in under 9 months.

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