SAN DIEGO, July 28, 2015 — The magnificent prehistoric great white shark is the largest of all predatory fish in the world.
A descendant of early shark species from approximately 400 million years ago, prior to the dinosaur age, the great white shark is believed to have evolved 16-20 million years ago.
The great white can grow up 15-to-20 feet in length, and weigh as much as 5,000 pounds, according to National Geographic.
Its streamlined body and powerful tail allow the great white to travel at remarkable speeds of up to 15 miles an hour.
As a survivor for millions of years, the great white shark has proven its ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions.
With an extraordinary sense of smell, far greater than that of a human, it can detect the scent of prey well in advance of attack.
Great whites have tiny organs which provide them with the capacity to detect electromagnetic impulses given off by desired prey and potential threats.
Due to their appearance, and to Hollywood sensationalism, human beings are easily frightened by great white sharks, so much so that the very thought of them produces fear.
Perceived as a target of the great whites, human beings might be surprised to learn that they are not their natural prey, nor their food source of choice.
Great whites have difficulty digesting human bodies and do not enjoy eating bones.
The cuisine of choice for the great white shark is a variety of fish, sea turtles, small whales, sea lions and seals.
The rare reports from surfers who have been attacked by a great white might not realize that their elongated surfboards and the swimming movement of their arms in the water, cause a great white to erroneously believe that the figure they are stealthily viewing from below is a surfboard with a surfer on it–not a seal or sea lion!
This could explain the odd reports of sharks biting a chunk out of a surfboard, ignoring the surfer, and then going merrily on their way.
Great whites taste a bite of their prey prior to swallowing it to determine its suitability as a food source.
“Of the 100-plus annual shark attacks worldwide, fully one-third are attributable to great whites…most of these are not fatal…who (great whites) are naturally curious, are ‘sample biting’ then releasing their victims rather than preying on humans,” according to National Geographic.
In 2014, “There were only three shark related deaths, compared to 100 million sharks killed annually by people,” according to the World Wildlife Organization.
Sometimes caught by mistake in fishermen’s nets, killed by poachers, illegally slaughtered as food or fin soup, and prized as a trophy (shark jaw or teeth), the great white shark is becoming rarer as a species than tigers.
For millions upon millions of years, the great white shark has helped to create ecological balance in our seas and oceans.
As great whites consume a variety of marine fish, dead whales, diseased and dying great whites, they help to create a balanced and healthy underwater habitat.
Conservation efforts and research studies are underway worldwide by countries that are surrounded by coastal waters and seem to attract sharks due to their cool temperatures and natural food sources.
For further information regarding conservation efforts to save the great white shark contact:
The World Wildlife Fund
1250 24th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037
Beach goers, swimmers and surfers who are concerned about their safety may be interested in the following shark safety tips by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy:
- Do not swim near seals
- Swim close to shore
- Swim, paddle, kayak and surf in groups
- Do not swim alone in the ocean at dawn or dusk
- Limit splashing and do not wear shiny jewelry
- Keep a distance of at least 150 feet from the presence of seals
- Pay attention to signage and warnings posted at beaches
- Keep pets leashed
- Follow instructions of lifeguards
Enjoy the benefits of being at the ocean shore this summer while being aware that a magnificent great white shark could be basking in coastal waters nearby.
Keep in mind that the great white is looking for tasty natural food sources and has no intention of making contact with any human being.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities Digital News” columnist, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.
In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.
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