Great White Shark
Unlike the true fishes, sharks don’t have internal bone, but instead have a cartilaginous skeleton (Chondrichthyes). Carcharidon carcharius is one of the largest species of sharks. It has a conical, relatively short snout, long gill slits and a large dorsal fin. The second dorsal fin is small, and it has a big curved caudal fin. Its pectoral fins are pointed with black marks at the end. When the shark is near the surface the dorsal fin and part of the tail are visible above the water. The dorsal surface is grey to blue-grey, while the ventral surface is white. The border between these colours is usually well defined. The grey coloration helps to camouflage the shark when approaching prey.
The teeth of the Great White are large, arrowhead-shaped and serrated. They have about 3 000 teeth at any one time. The teeth are in rows, which rotate when needed. As teeth are lost, broken or worn down, teeth that rotate into place replace them. White sharks are intelligent and have one of the largest brains for their body size of any animal – more similar to mammals than other fish. Its sense organs are outstanding and unique in the animal world. Great white’s primarily use their sense of smell and are also able to sense electrical charges.
Scientists believe that the maximum length of the white shark is about 6.8m (22.3 ft). The biggest Great White ever caught was a female of 6.4meters, which was caught off Cuba in 1945. It weighed 3312 kilos and its girth reached 4.5meters.
The most familiar sharks (e.g. a blacktip shark) have torpedo-like bodies, as does the great white, but it is also rather stout when compared to other sharks.
- The snout of the great white is short and conical.
- The eye is circular and solid black.
- The jaw teeth, especially the uppers, are broadly triangular, with fine serrations on the edges with small lateral cusps.
- Juveniles fewer than two meters may have some smooth-edge teeth.
- The five gill slit are long, and all in front of the pectoral fin.
- The anal and second dorsal fins are nearly rectangular in adults and very small.
- The tail fin support area (caudal peduncle) has a wide lateral keel that strengthens the fin’s movement.
- The caudal fin is crescentic (both upper and lower lobes are about the same size).
- The upper part of the body, roughly on a line through the eye to the pelvic fin, is dark to light grey. Below this, the body is white.
Just off the coast at Gansbaai lis shark alley – Great White Shark capital of the world. Be sure to take an excursion to view these magnificent creatures – view them from the boat or, if you’re brave enough, go shark cage diving.
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