Australia’s Great White Sharks: Majestic Ocean Giants

   

Great White Sharks, known by various names such as great whites, white pointers, white sharks, or white death, are the most terrifying and feared predators in the ocean. They can be found along the coasts of Australia. Great White Sharks typically measure between 3.5 to over 5 meters (11.5 to 16+ feet) in length and weigh an average of 1,300kg (2,870 pounds) or more. These sharks have a gray coloration on the top side of their bodies and white underneath. The largest reliably measured Great White Shark was a 6.0-meter (19.7 feet) individual reported from Ledge Point, Western Australia, in 1987. However, a larger specimen measuring 6.4 meters (21 feet) in length and weighing approximately 3,324kg (7,330 pounds) was verified by T. C. Tricas and J. E. McCosker in 1984. Another unconfirmed report claims a Great White Shark captured near Kangaroo Island, Australia, in April 1987, estimated to be over 7 meters (23 feet) long.

Great White Sharks, like all other sharks, possess an extra sense provided by the Ampullae of Lorenzini, enabling them to detect the electromagnetic field generated by the movement of living animals. They are incredibly sensitive and can detect an electrical field as weak as half a billionth of a volt. Even the faint electrical pulse emitted by a heartbeat can be detected by these sharks. Most fish have a less-developed but similar sense known as the lateral line, which helps them perceive their surroundings. On occasion, Great White Sharks have attacked and even sunk boats, sometimes targeting vessels up to 10 meters (33 feet) in length. They typically bump or knock people overboard, usually approaching the boat from the stern.

Great White Sharks are carnivorous predators and feed on various marine creatures such as fish (including tuna and other sharks), cetaceans (such as dolphins, porpoises, and whales), pinnipeds (including seals, fur seals, and sea lions), sea turtles, sea otters, and seabirds. They have also been known to ingest objects that they cannot digest. When reaching a length of approximately 4 meters (13 feet), Great White Sharks primarily target marine mammals as their prey, preferring those with a high fat content for energy. In an experiment, shark experts used a rod-and-reel rig and trolled carcasses of a seal, a pig, and a sheep behind their boat. The sharks attacked all three baits but rejected the sheep carcass.

The reasons behind shark attacks on humans are not entirely understood. Despite millions of people swimming in Australian waters every day, there is only about one fatal shark attack per year. Humans are not considered the preferred food source for sharks, as they are known to prefer seal meat. Some scientists speculate that fatal shark attacks occur when sharks mistake humans for seals. Others argue that sharks have large enough brains to distinguish between humans and seals, suggesting that a combination of factors may contribute to these incidents and vary from case to case. Great White Sharks also engage in test-biting buoys, flotsam, and other unfamiliar objects, and may grab a human or a surfboard to investigate.

Australia has witnessed 195 known fatal shark attacks. In July 1945, more than 900 men aboard the American warship USS Indianapolis, carrying crucial components and enriched uranium for the atomic bomb “Little Boy” later dropped on Hiroshima, were stranded in the Pacific Ocean after the ship was split in two by Japanese torpedoes. When rescuers arrived four days later, they discovered that 579 men had died, many of whom had been mutilated by circling sharks

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