Carcharodon carcharias, more commonly known as the great white shark, is one of more than 450 shark species and is the largest of all predatory sharks in the ocean today.
Adult great white sharks grow to a maximum size of approximately 20 feet in length, weigh up to 6,600 pounds, and are estimated to live for 30 years.
Great whites play a special role in the ocean as a top predator by keeping prey populations such as elephant seals and sea lions in balance. The presence of great white sharks ultimately increases species stability and the diversity of the ocean.
Great white sharks have serrated bladelike teeth with the upper jaw containing a row of 23-28 teeth and their lower jaw 20-26 teeth. These triangular teeth can reach up to 6.6 inches in height.
Female great white sharks mature between 13-16 feet in length at 12-14 years of age whereas males mature between 11.5-14.5 feet in length at 9-10 years of age.
Great white sharks bear live young and females give birth to between two and 10 pups per litter, and perhaps as many as 14. Researchers think the gestation period is anywhere from 12-22 months which would only allow for breeding to occur approximately every other year.
Male great white sharks generally arrive at the same time to the Farallon Islands off the California Coast and the offshore Island of Guadalupe, Mexico from late July through August, and females arrive to these locations several weeks thereafter. These sharks are observed at their coastal aggregation sites through February.
Great white sharks are opportunistic predators, feeding from the ocean’s surface to the seafloor. As great white sharks grow in size, so does the range of their prey. Smaller great whites prey on fish, rays, and crustaceans and when they are larger also eat seals, sea lions, dolphins, seabirds, marine turtles, rays, and other sharks.