Great White Sharks are probably the most feared shark in all of the ocean. These massive creatures are impressive predators that rival nearly every other predator on Earth for their hunting skills. However, even though they are the apex predator of the ocean, they do not need to be feared. Instead, they are a marvel of biology and evolution and have adapted some really impressed characteristics. So instead, let’s look at these impressive biological adaptations and admire the incredible skills of this awe-inspiring creature.
Great White Sharks Have A Massive Size
One of the biggest reasons Great White Sharks are the apex predator of the ocean is because of their massive size. They are both the largest predatory shark and the largest predator fish. Great White Sharks are sexually dimorphic, so females grow larger than the males. One average male Great White Sharks grow to 11-13 ft in length and weigh between 1,151-1,700 lb (522-771 kg). While female Great White Sharks average 20 ft (6.1 m) in length and weigh around 4,300 lb (1,950 kg). There are reports of much larger Great White Sharks swimming in the waters, though the largest confirmed species was 21 ft (6.4 m) in length and weighed 7,328 lb (3,324 kg).
Great White Sharks Have A Serious Bite
Great White Sharks have very large mouths that measure 3-4 ft (0.9-1.2 m) in width. Their mouths are lined with up to 3,000 sharp teeth at any one time. Their teeth grow in rows of anywhere from 5-15 and they can measure up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) in length. Add to that their powerful jaw muscles that can inflict a bite force of 4,095 lbf (18,216 newtons), 20 times that of a human and 4 times that of a lion, and they can quickly inflict some serious damage with one bite.
Great White Sharks Have Warm Blood
Though most sharks are cold-blooded, Great White Sharks are endotherms. Endotherms can regulate their blood temperature. They warm their blood with a “rete mirabile” which is a series of veins that conserve heat by warming arterial blood in the muscles of the shark. Their bodies can be up to 25° F (14° C) degrees warmer than the water around them. This allows them not only to hunt effectively in colder waters, but to have more efficient muscles making them stronger and faster.
Great White Sharks Are Fast Swimmers
Great White Sharks are one of the fastest swimmers in the ocean. They clock in high speeds at 25 mph (40 kph). They are able to swim so fast because they have torpedo shaped bodies that reduce drag and strong tail muscles used for thrust. Their speed is further enhanced by both their endothermic capabilities, but also the pressure from their massive size. These speed also allows them to jump right out of the water, a behavior known as breaching. Great White Sharks can breach 8 ft (2.43 m) into the air, though there are reports of breaches as high as 25 ft (7.6 m). Not only are they fast and able to jump out of the water, they are also extremely agile and can make quick, sharp turns at a moment’s notice.
Great White Sharks Have Great Eyesight
Though most people believe sharks are blind, nothing could be further from the truth. Great White Sharks in particular have incredible eyesight, arguably better than even humans. They are able to see in both bright and dim light, which allows them to hunt at night and in the deep dark waters. They also can see a wide range of colors in the water. The placement of their eyes along the sides of their heads gives them a nearly 360° viewpoint. The only blind spots a shark has are right in front of its nose and right on top of its head. Their amazing eyesight helps them find and observe prey.
Great White Sharks Have An Incredible Sense Of Smell
The myth that Great White Sharks can smell a single drop of blood from three miles away is completely true. That is because they have a highly developed sense of smell that helps them locate prey and avoid predators like Orcas and large Great White Sharks. They have the largest smelling organ of any shark called an “olfactory bulb.”
Great White Sharks Have A Sixth Sense
Beyond the five sense they share with humans, Great White Sharks have a sixth sense they rely on to navigate the waters, find prey, and communicate with one another. This sixth sense is electroreceptivity. Their sixth sense comes from a network of cells along their head. These cells are able to pick up electrical fields in the water. Prey creates an electrical field from their movement, so they will sense the movement and investigate. They also use this sense to navigate the open ocean by sensing the Earth’s electromagnetic fields.
Great White Sharks Have A Large Diet
Great White Sharks have a large dietary range. They will eat both bony and cartilaginous fish, cetaceans, pinnipeds and sea mammals, sea turtles, seabirds, and carrion. Their varied diet allows them to eat wherever they go. They also can sustain long periods without eating. For example, if they eat (66 lb) 30 kg of Whale fat, they can live for 1.5 months without having to eat again. Their varied diet gets them in trouble sometimes because they will eat things they cannot digest like human garbage. Once a Great White Shark was found with an entire suit of armor in its stomach.
Great White Sharks are incredible hunters and their evolutionary adaptations make them a serious force to be reckoned with. However, even though they are the apex predators of the ocean, they do not present any real threat to humans. There have been several accounts of Great White Sharks attacks but most of these are provoked and the rest are simply a case of mistaken identity. So there is no need to fear them, instead we can just admire their incredible adaptations.