by Khadijah Rahim
The great white shark is the world’s largest predatory fish. Despite its 300 teeth, the great white doesn’t chew its food! Prey is ripped into bite-sized pieces and swallowed whole. Weighing in at 6000 pounds and stretching to 15 feet, the shark’s long body allows it to swim for long periods of time, and transition to high-speed bursts to pursue prey – even leaping out of water.
Highly adapted predators, with their 300 teeth and incredible sense of smell, the great white can smell prey up to three miles away. They even have organs that can detect electromagnetic fields generated by other animals. Their diet consists of other crustaceans, fish, sea birds, and mollusks. Larger great whites will even feed on sea lions, seals, and other baby sharks.
Though many are terrified of the great white shark, many scientists have confirmed they don’t intend to attack humans. According to National Geographic, the great white often, “‘sample bite,’ then release their human target….indicating humans are not on the menu.” When seen from below, swimmers and surfers often take the appearance of seals – sharks favorite meal, leading to shark attacks.
However, despite their large terrifying frame, the population of the great white sharks is rapidly decreasing, edging them into endangerment. The two biggest threats against the great white sharks are hunted and entanglement in fishing gear. Often hunted for fins and teeth, the great white is even often a trophy for sport fishing. Entanglement in fishing gear often injures a shark and can be fatal. Harm done to female sharks leads to lack of reproduction further decreasing the population. Moreover, climate change and ocean pollution further disrupts the shark’s habits and leads to its decline.
So how can you help? Take Instant Action in three steps!
#1: Dispose of your trash in the right place and recycle when you can!
#2: Be mindful when swimming in the ocean. Steer clear of swimming with seals – the great white’s favorite food. Swim where a lifeguard is present, and follow any warning signs posted at a beach.
#3: Most importantly, continue to educate yourself and share this information to help keep the world’s largest predatory fish thriving.