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THE GREAT WHITE SHARK

THE GREAT WHITE SHARK

EL GRAN TIBURÓN BLANCO

White sharks have a thick, muscular shape that tapers at the ends, contrasting with the flattened shapes of other sharks. Its nose is cone-shaped, short and thick. Its mouth is very large and rounded, shaped like an arch or parabola. Its mouth remains slightly open all the time, revealing at least one row of upper jaw teeth and one or two rows of the lower jaw, while water enters and continuously leaves through its gills.

It lives over areas of the continental shelf and near the coasts, where water is less deep. Areas where the abundance of light and marine currents generate a higher concentration of animal life, which for this species, means more food. Its length ranges from 4 to 7 meters, with the males smaller than the females. There is no way to guarantee what the maximum size of the species really is.

White sharks are considered "killing machines," as their popular image, mostly urban legend, maintains. In order to capture the large mammals that make up the adult diet, white sharks ambush: they hide several meters below the prey, using the dark color of their back as camouflage with the background, thus becoming invisible to their victims. The killer whale is a threat to white sharks.

On October 4, 1997, in waters off of the Farallon Islands, a female killer whale approximately 6.5 meters long attacked a white shark; the white shark died. In general, the white shark would not have many advantages when attacked by a killer whale due to obvious differences. Even though it is hard to believe, despite of the white shark's reputation, shark attacks against humans are very rare.

Among human attacks, those by the white shark are considered anecdotal when compared to those of the tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) or the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas), the latter of which even swims from the sea several kilometers up large rivers (such as the Mississippi, Amazon, Zambeziçe, etc.) to attack people. However, the combined number of deaths caused by these three shark species are fewer than those caused by sea snakes and crocodiles each year, and even fewer than the number of deaths caused by animals seen as harmless, like bees, wasps and hippopotamuses. It is considerably more probable to die from a heart attack on the water than from a shark attack.