The Man in the Gray Suit

Great White Shark

(Carcharodon carcharias)

Marty Wolff

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Order: Lamniformes
Family: Lamnidae
Genus: Carcharodon

The white shark is a solitary predator that can grow to over 20′ in length, but averages 12-16 feet and weighs about 4000 pounds. Larger great whites have been recorded up to 23′ and other evidence shows they could grow as large as 26′ in some parts of the world. As with most sharks, females are larger than males. Shark pups are around five feet long at birth.

The heavy body is shaped like a torpedo. Most of the shark is gray with a white underbelly. When hunting, the great white usually strikes from below. Its grayish top coloration blends in with the dark water, allowing it to approach the prey undetected. This shark has five gill slits, a crescent-shaped tail, no fin spines, an anal fin, a dorsal fin and two pectoral fins. The dorsal fin is the one that breaks the surface of the water. For as large and heavy as this shark is, the great white shark is a streamlined swimmer, striking it’s prey with a tremendous force.

Smile for the camera!

The great white shark has multiple rows of teeth. As the older teeth age and fall out, new teeth move in from behind. Like a conveyor belt, the teeth grow from the inner surface of the shark’s jaw cartilage and are shed from the front row. The teeth of the great white shark are serrated and can be up to 3″ long.
The shape and structure of the teeth is different in various shark species. This is due to variations in the animal’s diet. For the great white shark the teeth are the perfect design to rip apart just about anything it decides to attack…except the shark cage!

Text adapted with permission from the Solmar V.

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