Great White Shark Fact Sheet

Great White Shark Common Names:
English: Great White Shark, White Shark, Blue Pointer
Afrikaans: Withaai, Witdoodshaai.


Scientific Name:
Carcharodon carcharias

Up to 6 m in length, weighing up to 2 tons.

Dorsal surface (upper body) ranges from dark grey to light brown, while the ventral
side (belly) is white.

Great White Shark Range/Distribution:
White sharks occur in one of the widest habitat and geographic ranges of any fish.
They are widely distributed around the South African coast (as well as the world’s
oceans) with the highest concentrations occurring in temperate waters particularly in
the vicinity of Cape fur seal colonies.

Males are believed to reach sexual maturity at 9 to 12 years of age when they are
about 4 metres in length. Females reach maturity at a larger size of between 4 and 5
metres at 13 to 16 years old. Embryos mature inside the mother’s uterus, at first
nourished by a yolk sac and later through unfertilized eggs. The gestation period is
around 14-18 months and the female gives birth to live young estimated to be between
1 and 1,5 metres long.

Body Temperature:
Its counter-current heat exchange system enables the great white to keep vital organs
at up to 14°C warmer than the surrounding water.

Swimming Speed:
It can reach close to 50 km per hour in short bursts, but in long distance, such as
during ocean crossings, they move at a minimum sustained speed of up to 5 km per

Great White Shark Teeth:
26 broad triangular shaped and serrated teeth in each row of the upper jaw and 24
more pointy teeth in the lower jaw rows.

Cape fur seals, other sharks, rays, bony fish, dolphins, whales.

Main Threats From Humans:
Commercial longlining, poaching for jaws, teeth and fins, trawler and purse seiner bycatch, entanglement in and persecution from aquaculture facilities, boat traffic and