The great white shark has a large mouth, full of long, saw-edged teeth. Its body is bluish-gray on top and white on the bottom. The great white shark’s body is streamlined, with a tail fin that drives the shark along. It is one of the fastest and most dangerous fish in the sea.
The snout of the great white has small pores that lead to receptors. These receptors pick up electrical nerve signals in their prey. The shark often pokes its head out of water to sniff the air for the scent of prey. Other sensors can detect blood in the water.
As the shark attacks its prey, its snout lifts out of the way and the jaws protrude, aligning the teeth and increasing biting capacity. It usually attacks from below and behind its prey.
The teeth of the great white shark can be up to three inches long—broad, sharp, and serrated. When the old, worn outer teeth are shed, new teeth move up to replace them within 24 hours.
The great white shark roams in many of the world’s seas. It spends most of its time in coastal waters and around reefs where abundant fish and sea mammals live. The great white shark avoids very warm and very cold water. It is very rare to see one in polar or tropical waters.
The great white shark swims all day long, searching for food. Its diet consists of fish, dolphins, seals, squid, sea turtles, seabirds, and whale carcasses.
The female’s eggs are fertilized internally. The young in her womb feed on a supply of unfertilized eggs. She gives birth to a few fully formed young. The young are independent and hungry.
Lamniformes • Lamnidae
Weight: 5,940–7,040 pounds (2,694–3,193 kg)
Length: 12–20 feet (3.7–6 m)
Life Span: 30 to 50 years
Special Design Feature: The great white shark has large black eyes with excellent vision. The eyes roll back into their sockets for protection when they attack.
Did You Know? Great white sharks are the largest predatory fish in the sea.