White Shark/Red Triangle
Great White Myths

Great White Myths

Careful, there’s a myth lurking in these waters. Can you separate fact from fiction in five shark-essential categories?

Myth #1: Shark Attacks

Shark attacks usually occur near feeding grounds — sandbars, river channels, or in shallow water. The great white usually stalks its target while cruising along the ocean bottom, then springs to the surface for a vertical attack. It prefers high-energy, fatty prey.

Attack methods vary: elephant seals are bled to death before being eaten; sea lions are dragged beneath the surface, then eaten at the bottom. Attacks on

humans are usually aimed at the legs. The attack can prompt a feeding frenzy since great whites prefer and seek out human flesh. Many biologists believe that white sharks attack surfers because their surfboards resemble seals.

Myth #2: Habitat

There is still a great deal about the territo

rial and migratory habits of the great white that is not fully understood. The sharks tend to prefer temperate waters, but have been found as far north as Alaska and as far south as Australia. Their greatest numbers are concentrated off South Africa.
One area where great whites can alway

s be found is near a beach in the tropics. They tend to stay in the upper part of the water, but can descend to depths of more than 775 feet. Great whites can spend months at a time in the open ocean. In order to maintain constant body temperature, the great white’s metabolism keeps its body about ten degrees

warmer than the surrounding water.

There are no worldwide population estimates available for great whites, but the World Conservation Union has listed the white shark’s status

as “vulnerable.”

Myth #3: Diet

Great whites are apex predators, located

at the top of the ocean’s food chain. Their flat, serrated teeth and massive jaws let them prey on fat-rich marine mammals like sea lions, seals, whales, and dolphins as well as turtles, crabs, and other sharks. Weighing up to a ton, white sharks are essentially the ocean’s gigantic trash compactors, consuming not only animals but boat debris.

The carnivorous great whites favor the daytime for eating, and will often attack prey at the same time and at the same place. They can survive for

as long as 45 days on 60 pounds of whale fat. Fatty foods are required to keep the shark’s body temperature warm and give it energy for attacks at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. A tactic called “bite and spit” is often used on prey — like humans — that are deemed an unsuitable, low-fat food.

Myth #4: Senses

Great whites are highly sensitive to their environment. Electric receptors are one of their greatest assets. Located along the sides of their bodies and in their heads, lateral lines send a nerve impulse to the great white’s brain when the surrounding water moves. The lines’ hair-lined cells can sense distance and direction, and can detect low-frequency sounds as vibrations.

While on the prowl, the great white also uses cells called ampullae of Lorenzini. Located in the shark’s snout, these cells can decipher electrical signals given off by hidden prey or any organism at close range.

Great whites have unusually large eyes for a daytime predator. Their retinas, roughly similar in structure to that of a human, have about 10 times the sensitivity to light. Yet great whites have notoriously bad vision — as demonstrated by their tendency to mistake surfboards for seals.

Myth #5: Brain Power

Relative to its body weight, the great white has a medium-sized brain — it is about 2 feet long, and narrow. In proportion to its body weight, the average great white’s brain mass is about 238 times less than that of a human, according to shark researchers Leo Demski and R. Glenn Northcutt. The great white is entirely a creature of instinct.

Large portions of the great white’s body are focused on interpreting external cues. For example, roughly two-thirds of the great white’s brain is dedicated to processing olfactory signals. Also, the great white’s cranial nerves — which analyze vibrations, sounds, and electrical currents — and optical nerves, which process viual information, are quite thick.

Little research has been done on the great white’s ability to learn. But in tests, they display a greater curiosity in unknown, brightly colored items than in bait. They are also thought to have a memory of place: Sharks off the coast of California and Australia gather for hunts at the same time each year.

  • Elle

    Such myths lead to tragedy to both the swimmers and the sharks. People are often lead to believe sharks are only meant to be killers so they kill them before the shark ate them. Thanks to myths like these sharks made their way to the endangered list. I hope people learn to see the sharks importance in our environment and enjoy their beauty. They are to be respected for we venture into their kingdom and we decide to take the risks.

  • baby weapon

    i ate a shark then i licked his gills nice


    Everything the Shark does is because he is trying to protct himself!!!!!!

  • michelle

    If you truly want to keep from being bitten by a shark, keep your butt out of the ocean. The shark isn’t going to come into your living room and bite you, but you go into their living room you take a chance on getting eaten!!!!!

  • HD

    Everything a shark does is not because it is trying to protect itself. They are mostly driven by hunger. People are attacked because the shark originally thinks they are food. After the first bite, a lot of the time, they realise their mistake and move off.

  • SharkGirl

    i love sharks cause thier awsome. i love the prehistoric shark the megalodon the most. i wouldn’t want to get close to one in the ocean though. i am the BIGGEST shark fan ever. no ne can take my place. anyone who hats sharks I can not understand why. I LOVE SHARKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • sharkbate

    sharkes r so kool i want 2 study thime som day.i love the megalodo sharki the best.i am the b iggest sharke fan ever.i would love to swim with the megalodon sharke that would be kool.I LOVE SHARKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • shark freak

    these myths lead to the great whites being hunted down. sharks are essential to the oceans ecosystem; they eat the sick or dying animals. they are very important to scientists who are studying their cartilage for a cure for cancer. if we can stop such myths like these then the great whites and other species of sharks would stop being killed out of fear. sharks are being killed for their fins in asian countries. sharkfin soup is a delicacy in some countries in asia and therefore sharks are being killed for only their fins. their oil from the liver is being used for coometics. their cartilage and other parts such as the eyes are being used for research. and their skin is being used for leather.

  • some guy

    Um, which are myths and which aren’t in this “article”? This article is very confusing. The first line states

    “Careful, there’s a myth lurking in these waters. Can you separate fact from fiction in five shark-essential categories?”

    Well, what is the myth. /not well played Nature. Please help us and tell us which above is a myth vs. reality.

  • greatwhitecanadian fan

    i think that ppl need to do their research b4 going into the water. as much as i love both sharks and water, i would not want to be in the water with my favorite sharks. id be bitten lol. great whites r beautiful and smart. id love to watch them but i wouldnt want to tempt fate by getting in the water with them. thou there is much more than sharks to be afraid of in the water, sharks r given the most fear. personally i more afraid of box jelly fish than sharks cause those little things r small and deadly. anyways if ppl did their research and respected the signs saying there r sharks in the water less would be injure. thou there is more of a chance of being hit by lightning than a great white shark, ppl still think they r mindless when they r not. thats the tiger shark lol dont take ur eye off those suckers or ull find their teeth in ur butt. known fact all sharks r ambush preditors!!!!!


    sharks are the most scariest animal ive ever know, they attack us in different kind of ways and we dont even know they are coming towards us. So KEEEEEEEEEEP yourself save by not going in the ocean and far away from the beach. LOOK AFTER YOURSELF BY STAYING AWAY FROM THE OCEAN

  • TERI

    ive never seen a shark in my life, but i know that they are the worst animal to make as a pet, they can kill you or give series injury that can ruin you life. this is my advice to you all: STAY AWAY FROM THE SHARKS AND NEVER MAKE THEM YOU PET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



  • thelma

    Shark do NOT attack cause they are evil, in most cases they “attack” humans cause of curiosity, cause they have mistaken human from seals or if a person is splashing the water, as a hurt animal. They also tend to attack if someone goes into their habitat, which is understandable, seriously, what would you do if someone would just swim in your house and make as their own.
    Shark most often feed in daylight and as any wild animal you have to watch your self and respect them and avoid them the best you can, If you are warned about danger of shark stay the heck away from the sea.
    Human do not have enough body fat to become one of the daily menu.

  • laries

    it might have been orcas

  • Ashley Barnsley

    i think its mean that people are killing the great white shark because they attact people its not thier fault that they mistake us as seals. so in the futre i want to be a shark saver

  • hey

    the great white is a very important animal to the earths ecosysem

  • Don Nadie

    hi,I am concerned about the overfishing finning and criminal abuse against the shark so much so that I wanna adopt a couple of them please reccomend a serious charity that look after them ,all the best

  • nitin nanda

    hey im always fasinated with sharks. from nitin

  • RUCHAN_12

    It’s just the same as how we live… we eat everything for survival… they are our prey and sometimes we are the prey :D .. that’s how life goes on … we just have to be careful… :)

  • Zhangliqun

    Well, that they weigh “up to a ton” is false. They can weigh a good deal more than that, some of them close to 3 tons.

  • Ed

    Man is the only animal who thinks he’s not an animal-he roams the planet thinking it is all his and then moans when something attacks him. I know not all people are like this but an awful lot do see animals, resources as plunder to do with what we will. Non-understanding makes people fear. Sharks are to feared, they are a apex predator that will, on occasion, attack, kill and devour a human/humans. But the people who die to sharks attacks is very low considering the amount of humans that are killed by humans or human activity. As has been said, ,mankind does not own the land or the oceans or skies, he co-exists in a wonderful place with a wonderful array of animals and if he gets in the way then animals are only doing what nature intended, and if they be a hungry shark then it could well attack and eat you-simple. Why people have then to go out and hunt an animal that needed food or mistook a diver/surfer for a seal is beyond me. A knee-jerk reaction that the animal may become attracted to human flesh…maybe, but more sharks are killed than just the one that is hunted. I certainly would not want to share the ocean with a large shark but I also wouldn’t want any harm to befell the creature. If all mankind was wiped out would the world still turn? Yes, of course it would. If Sharks and other creatures became extinct would the world still turn? Probably, but at what cost to mankind? Nature has a beautiful system of keeping things in balance-only man has to mess it up, with his large brain and potential Homo Sapain’s are rather dumb at times.

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