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SHARK INFO

Sharks play a major role in shaping the marine ecosystems.

GREAT WHITE SHARKS

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


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Family

Lamindae


Scientific Name

Carcharodon carcharias


Size

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


Coloration

Dorsal surface (upper body) ranges from dark grey to light brown, while the ventral

side (belly) is white.


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.


Reproduction

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
hour.


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.


Prey

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
pollution.


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All Shark Spotters safety, research and education operations are currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.