Impurest's Guide to Animals #122 - Great White Shark

Yep the colder weather is back, farewell summer and hello spring again. I could of course ask the ninjas to bring back the sun, but that means consorting with last week’s issue; the Borneo Ninja Slug. This week we have a predatory request from @heroup2112 which sits right at the apex of the food chain. Hope you guys enjoy.

_________________________________________________________________

Issue #122 – Great White Shark

[1]
[1]

Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Chordata

Class – Chondrichthyes

Order – Lamniformes

Family – Lamnidae

Genus – Carcharodon

Species – carcarias

Related Species – The Great White Shark is the largest of the Lamnidae family or Mackerel Sharks, which also contains the two extant species of Mako Shark, and the two extant species of Porbeagle Shark

Range

[2]
[2]

The Misunderstood Marine Marauder

The Great White Shark is the largest of the Mackerel Sharks, with an average length of 4 to 5m, and an average weight of 600kgs to a ton, although larger specimens have been reliably recorded. Great Whites are mainly pelagic predators as adults, often straying into temperate water following large prey, often relying on stored fat and oils in the liver, which can account for 25% of the animal’s total weight (2), to survive long periods without food. Almost uniquely among sharks, excluding the other Mackerel Sharks and the unrelated Thresher Sharks (Alopias sp), the Great White can tolerate cold water temperatures using an organ known as the ‘rete mirabile’ or ‘wonderful nets’ (when translated from Latin), which forms a web like structure of warmed blood vessels around the sharks core organs.

Great Whites are carnivorous throughout their entire lifespan, although the diet shift from fish and cephalopods as a pup, to larger fish and marine mammals as an adult. Both adults and younger animals are not picky about what they eat, although the former tends to gravitate to fat rich prey, with seals, sea-lions and small dolphins being the preferred prey. Adult Great Whites are primarily diurnal predators using the silhouettes of their prey swimming at or near the surface to help them home in on an individual target. As such, unlike many species of shark, Great Whites almost exclusively hunt during the day, with early morning being the most lucrative time for hunting prey such as seals, with a 50% success rate in the first two hours after sunrise being recorded (3). Predation of adult Great Whites is limited to Orcas (Orcinus orca) and humans (Homo sapiens sapiens), with Great Whites actively fleeing an area on the arrival of an Orca pod.

[3]
[3]

As with all species of sharks, the growth rate of Great White Sharks is extremely slow, with males reaching sexual maturity at an age of 26 years, and females at an age of 33, although it’s theorised that the species average life span is close to 70 years. Mating has never been recorded but presumably it’s akin to that of the smaller Porbegale Shark (Lamna nasus) which involves sexual biting from the male to hold onto the female when copulating. Gestation takes almost a year, with the young born fully formed and ready to hunt for prey without any assistance from their parents.

Five Fun Great White Shark Facts

When striking prey the Great White rolls its eyes back into its sockets to avoid them being damaged by its struggling victims

This is partially why, although they have the highest attack rate on humans and the highest amount of fatalities to their name, Great White Sharks have relatively few human kills to their name. Other factors include misidentification and poor hunting conditions reducing the sharks usually astute senses

[4]
[4]

Great Whites try to avoid hurting each other when competing over food. Disputes are settled by tail slapping contests, with the shark who can slap the water the furthest wining the rights to the food.

A healthy Great White will eat, on average eleven tons of food a year.

This predatory nature of eat or be eaten starts in the womb, with the unborn pups hunting and killing each other before even being born (4)

Bibliography

1 - www.arkive.org

2 - http://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/july/sharks-fuel-source-071713.html

3 - http://www.elasmo-research.org/education/white_shark/predation.htm

4 - http://www.livescience.com/29198-shark-embryos-cannibalize-others.html

Picture References

1 - https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/56/White_shark.jpg

2 - https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4e/Great_White_Shark_Distibution_map.png

3 - http://www.divediscovery.com/images/Flying_Great_White_Sharks_2.jpg

4 - http://cdn2.discoverwildlife.com/sites/default/files/images/IMG_3394.preview.JPG

And that is one predatory issue that’ll sit on the apex of the IGTA pyramid for a while. Next week we have a velvet coated issue ambling into the spotlight. Until then make sure to critic, comment and suggest future issues as well as making sure you check past issues in Impurest’s Bestiary.

Many Thanks

Impurest Cheese

Want more IGTA? This isn’t the first shark we’ve covered, that honour goes to the closely related Salmon Shark, to see such an early issue click here. Or if something utterly ghoulish yet still shark shaped is more your cup of tea, click here to see the monstrous Goblin Shark

47 Comments