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Shark Gifts

Well-known species such as the great white shark, tiger shark, and the hammerhead are apex predators, at the top of the underwater food chain. Their extraordinary skills as predators fascinate and frighten humans, even as their survival is under serious threat from fishing and other human activities.

Great White Sharks

The great white shark of Jaws fame lives up to its name, on average measuring 13 to 17 feet in length and weighing about 1,500 to 2,500 pounds. At their largest, great white sharks can measure 21 feet in length and over 7,000 pounds in weight. Female great whites tend to be larger than males.

The great white shark has a prominent snout, a slender body, a strong jaw, and numerous rows of sharp, serrated teeth. It is predominantly gray but has a white underside, a coloration that makes it difficult for potential predators to see the shark from a number of angles.

The great white shark is a fast swimmer, a trait that contributes to its famous behavior of breaching. Breaching, a sharks' emerging partially or completely from the water's surface, is a hunting behavior of the great white shark, who is sometimes carried out of the water in a breach by the momentum of its lunge towards its prey.

Also known as the killer shark, the great white shark is a carnivorous predator, preying on seals, porpoises, turtles, and fish, including other sharks. While they cannot be discriminating in selecting what to attack due to their very poor vision, great white sharks are often discriminating in what they choose to eat, despite their reputation as monstrous, indiscriminate eaters.

Great white sharks are ambush hunters, meaning that they typically surprise their prey by attacking from underneath them. They may, however, attack porpoises from different angles to avoid detection by echolocation, and may also scavenge on the remains of deceased whales. They tend to hunt in shallow coastal waters, and typically attack near the water's surface.

While the great white shark is typically not viewed as prey, it can face danger from the orca, or the killer whale, if both pursue the same food source in the same area. Documented attacks by orcas on great white sharks have shown the ability of orcas to incapacitate, kill, and consume great whites in such situations.

As one may guess, the great white shark is responsible for more unprovoked attacks on humans than any other species. However, many great white attacks are nonfatal, which can be explained by the practice of great white sharks of "test biting" strange objects to identify them. It is also held that great whites may mistake surfers for seals when viewing them from below in waters with poor visibility. While great white sharks have attacked boats, this practice is not common.

Though little is known about the status of the population of wild great white sharks, the species is considered vulnerable due to the decline in numbers its population has suffered in recent years. Much of this decline is attributed to both sport and commercial fishing, although the commercial fishing of great white sharks is relatively uncommon.

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Shark Gifts




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