Great White Shark

Today’s endangered animal is not exactly endangered quite yet but deserves awareness. Now, I know most humans are instinctively afraid of these huge creatures but this species is very vulnerable and can tip over to the endangered side any day.

Let’s start with basic facts shall we?

Great white sharks roam the the cool coastal waters of Japan, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa Taiwan and US States California and Florida. The size of great white shark is largely debated but scientists can agree that recorded lengths are anywhere between 16-20 feet long and weigh between 4,000-7000 pounds. Great White sharks have a whopping 300 teeth but they don’t actually chew they prey. They bite them and swallow them whole. Their bodies are torpedo shaped which enables them to switch from a slow swim to a a high speed burst when hunting.

The size of their prey ranges from small, bony fish, to tuna, seals, dolphins and sometimes whales. They’re also known to eat crustaceans from time to time. Great White sharks are ovovivparous which means their eggs are produced and hatched inside the shark and sometimes uterine cannibalism may occur. This isn’t completely concrete, however, because a shark mating hasn’t been officially documented. They are also warm-blooded as opposed to most other shark species that are cold-blooded. It is estimated that a Great White shark’s life span is about 30 years.

Great white sharks are naturally curious creatures. They will readily swim up to a boat hoping to scavenge their next meal. Unfortunately, this as well as a few other things are the reason their population is declining. This is a problem because Great white sharks are keystone species.

For starters, Great White sharks do not eat humans. The humans who have been bitten by a shark are because the shark can’t tell the difference between a sea lion and a human when it’s hungry. There are more car accidents in the world 1000 times over than shark attacks. Thanks to the movie Jaws, sharks have gotten a very bad rap. Overfishing and poaching are slowly but surely killing the population. Again, sharks are curious and they like to scavenge so oftentimes they’ll swim up to a fisherman’s boat hoping to catch a few tunas and get caught in the netting or flat out killed because of human fear. The poaching is largely in part due to human demand for shark jaw, teeth and fins. On the black market, a shark jaw can go for $20,000-$500,000 US dollars with the individual teeth being sold for $600-$800 US dollars.

Great White sharks are super important to our marine environment. Not only are they apex predators (top of the food chain) they are also keystone species. Great White sharks keep the ocean biodiversity in check because they prey on the sick and weak species of a population which in turn keeps those species from overpopulating and helps us humans to have healthy, non diseased fish on our plates.

Bottom line, we need these beasties. Conservation efforts have taken place. The Great White Shark is protected under law in Australia, South Africa, Namibia, California and Florida, and Israel with fisheries being completely banned from some of these waters. However, humans have their ways of avoiding or “misinterpreting” the law so it’s still a struggle. If you’ve read this and decided that Great White sharks aren’t so bad after all, consider adopting one here.

(Sources: WWF, IUCN)