Misunderstood Hollywood bad guy
As well as being the largest predatory fish in the world, this misunderstood monster also enjoys unmerited Hollywood status as the ocean’s biggest baddie.
How big can it get?
“It was how big?” Reports of the size of great whites are riddled with as much ambiguity as a fisherman’s tale. Often other fish are mistakenly identified for the more famous shark. What is known though is that the world record for a rod-caught great white is 1,208 kilograms (2,664 pounds), but this one-ton beast is by no means the largest of its species. Reports of sharks exceeding 6 metres in length have been verified whilst others stating it grows longer than 7 metres have been rubbished. The average great white spotted off coastal waters tends to be about 4 metres which is still impressive, not to mention scary.
What does it eat?
With 300 serrated teeth within its huge jaws, the great white is well-equipped to feast on anything it pleases. The likes of sea lions, seals, sea turtles, and smaller whales are not safe, whilst it is just as happy to feast on leftovers (carrion).
How does it hunt?
Methodically. With an acute sense of smell it can find prey from miles away and has the speed to catch it very quickly but with extreme stealth. Once it has picked its unsuspecting victim it attacks from below and uses those vicious teeth to savage.
How dangerous is it?
This is one of the most dangerous sharks for humans to encounter, although it isn’t as dangerous as you might think. While Steven Spielberg might have wanted you to believe that Jaws would happily devour you, great white shark attacks on humans are rarely fatal simply because they don’t like the taste. Most attacks can be attributed to curiosity or mistaken identity – the sight of a surfer on his board can resemble a seal to the shark below.
How many are left?
Due to overfishing and overreaction, this species is now considered endangered.
This predator has one of the best senses of smell in the animal kingdom. It can detect a few drops of blood as far away as three miles away, which is a bit like one of us smelling bread in a bakery one town away. For the shark it’s just as appealing too.