The great white shark is a large species of shark that inhabits most coastal waters with a water temperature between 12 and 24 degrees. Also known as the great white or white pointer it is regarded as the world’s largest known macropredatory fish and can grow to lengths of 6.1 m (20 ft) and be as heavy as 2,268 kg (5,000 lb). The great white shark is has a white underside and a grey dorsal area and some have a white tip on the dorsal fin. These are one of the only sharks known to raise their heads about the water to watch other objects such as prey and boats. Once they reach maturity great white sharks primarily target marine mammals such as dolphins, seals and sea otters as their main source of food. So why are great white sharks endangered? Read this article to find out.
Why are great white sharks endangered?
Great white sharks are listed as a venerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This designation means that the shark is highly likely to become endangered if the circumstances causing its decline are not addressed. In the case of the great white shark the main reasons for its decline include overfishing, slow growth rates, hunting by humans (usually after a shark attack) and orca attacks.
Great white sharks are often targeted as a game fish and are captured for their jaws which are mounted and displayed as a trophy. As it is difficult to track these animals the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is unable to determine how much impact sport fishing has had on the shark population.
Despite their impressive size, great white sharks actually grow very slowly. It takes this species of shark 15 years to be mature enough to mate. Many of the sharks that are caught, either by accident commercially or in game fishing have, not reached sexual maturity and are never able to breed. These means that the population of sharks is not replenishing itself at a high enough level to increase shark numbers.
This shark is ranked first for its attacks on humans and subsequently many myths and stories depict the shark as a man eating beast. As a result they are often hunted and killed in waters where an attack has occurred. In most cases great white sharks only attack a human or surfboard as a way of identifying the object. Most attacks on human are non-fatal and are a result of test-bites.
In some incidences great white sharks are attacked by large orcas (killer whales). This occurs mainly as a result of sharing the same hunting grounds. If an orca attacks and kills and great white shark it often leads the other sharks to leave the area. This can mean that the sharks lose access to their main food supply for a season causing some to die from lack of food.