Many people think of the great white shark as a scary creature. After all, it has those big teeth and it does have a reputation for chomping at humans. However, the things that make the great white shark frightening are also the things that make it amazing.
Indeed, the great white shark is one cool animal (even though it is partly warm-blooded). It’s shaped like a torpedo. It’s older than dinosaurs. It’s heavier than a car. It has a mouth big enough to swallow a seal whole. Want to learn more? Below are ten more cool facts about great white sharks.
-Great white sharks are grey with a white underbelly, from where they get their name. They have a streamlined shape and powerful tails that propel them through the water at over 60km per hour!
-They go through more than 1000 teeth in their lifetime. The great white shark can have 300 teeth arranged in seven rows at any time in their life, each pointed, razor-sharp and up to 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) long. These teeth aren’t very strong, though. In fact, they come off easily. When they do, the great white shark eats the broken tooth whenever possible, in order to reuse the calcium.
-Great white sharks have such a strong sense of smell that they can detect a colony of seals two miles away. And check this out – if there was only one drop of blood in 100 litres of water, a great white would smell it!
-These cunning creatures like to take their prey by surprise. They usually position themselves underneath their unsuspecting victims before swimming up and…chomp! They often burst out of the water in a leap (called a breach) before falling back in with their meal in their mouths.
-When a great white gives birth, she usually has two to ten youngsters, called “pups“. But she shows no care for her offspring – in fact, she may even try to eat them! Taking care of themselves, the newborn pups will immediately swim off into the ocean.
-Many white sharks have been shown to heal themselves for minor wounds, but there has never been such a severe case as ‘Prop’ – a Gansbaai shark that was nearly split in half by a boat propeller. In 9 months, this shark’s wounds were entirely healed
–They have blue eyes – No “black dead eyes of a killer” here! They actually have beautiful baby blues.
–We know very little about them. Reproduction isn’t the only feature of white sharks we don’t know enough about — they are incredibly hard to study, and not just because they’re huge ocean-dwelling carnivores.
White sharks are at the top of ocean food chain so they’re bound to be rare, which makes counting them and getting meaningful data very tricky. Satellite tags have let Australian scientists track the incredibly impressive journeys of around 50 white sharks.
– They like to roll their eyes. And it’s not because they’re annoyed or frustrated. Rather, great white sharks roll their eyes to the back of their heads whenever they attack, so they don’t actually see what they’re attacking, in order to protect their eyes from getting damaged.
They don’t have eyelids, after all, like we do. When someone tries to hurt your eyes, by throwing sand at you, for example, you instinctively close your eyes to protect them, but since great white sharks can’t close their eyes, they roll them back instead.
Most animals they pursue, after all, don’t go down without a fight and during the fight, the great white shark can get hurt. In fact, many great white sharks have scars left behind by their previous attempts at meals. Wounds may heal but if a great white shark is blinded, it will never get its eyesight back and will have a hard time finding food in the future.
– They have to keep moving. Remember Dory’s mantra, “Just keep swimming”? Well, great white sharks actually have to live by this, literally. This is because great white sharks breathe by a process called ram ventilation.
As they swim along, the water “rams” into their mouths, and they let it out through their gill slits, to extract the oxygen they need. Therefore, if they stop moving, they’ll stop breathing and they will die.