Great whites are the largest predatory fish on earth. They are torpedo-shaped sharks with powerful tails that can propel them through the water at up to 15 miles per hour. Great white sharks can detect prey from long distances. They usually surprise their prey from below with a quick and lethal single attack.
“Shark bites are strongly correlated to the number of people and number of sharks in the water at the same time,” says Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, which maintains the International Shark Attack File. “The more sharks and people there are in one place, the greater the chance of them bumping into each other.”
Great white sharks in the North Atlantic show seasonal movement patterns, migrating thousands of miles to warmer waters during winter months. Some mature adults will venture into the open ocean for months at a time, covering tens of thousands of miles and diving up to 3000 feet deep as they seek prey. Great white sharks are the most dangerous species in the oceans.
Adult great white sharks grow to a maximum size of approximately 20 feet in length, weigh up to 6,600 pounds, and are estimated to live for 30 years. They have up to 300 serrated bladelike teeth, each one up to 6.6 inches high!
The great white is the most dangerous shark with a recorded 314 unprovoked attacks on humans. This is followed by the striped tiger shark with 111 attacks, bull sharks with 100 attacks and blacktip shark with 29 attacks.
“We are like helpless little sausages floating around in the water,” says Naylor. But despite being potentially such an easy meal, sharks are really not that interested in hunting humans. “They generally just ignore people. I think if people knew how frequently they were in water with sharks, they would probably be surprised.” ~Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research
How to avoid a Shark Attack?
You could try punching a biting Great White Shark in the gills, or poking it in the eyes. Swimming in groups and staying close to the shore reduce the risk of attacks. Wearing dark clothing and no shiny jewelry can reduce the chance of attracting a shark’s attention in the first place.
- Swim in groups
- Avoid swimming around dawn or dusk
- Steer clear of schools of fish, particularly if they are leaping out of the water.
- Avoid wearing jewelry as light reflecting off metal or a watch might look like a darting fish to a shark
- Avoid excess splashing, as sharks are drawn to the noise of injured animals.
While the chance that you will be bitten by a shark is very small, you can take steps to minimize your risk. Ten-year-olds Luke and Sophia created this video to help you stay safe in the water. https://youtu.be/BvoJacjp1hE
But don’t be scared!
The real-life likelihood that you’ll have a close encounter with a shark is about 1 in 11.5 million. In fact, you’re more likely to be injured in a boating accident or bike wreck than you are in a shark attack. More good news: death by shark hardly ever happens. One more thing: almost 93% of shark attacks are on men!
Great white sharks are opportunistic predators, feeding from the ocean’s surface to the seafloor. As great white sharks grow in size, so does the range of their prey. Smaller great whites prey on fish, rays, and crustaceans and when they are larger also eat seals, sea lions, dolphins, seabirds, marine turtles, rays, and other sharks.
See also our Fisherman’s Catch Marlin popup card.
Theme song! JAWS, conducted by John Williams at Royal Albert Hall
(Spielberg said the JAWS score added at least $100 million to the box office.)