Wildlife Wednesdays: The Great White Shark

Sharks. Throws fear into people, but why? Was is seeing Jaws when you were young or is it the news stories during those summer time tragedies? The most infamous shark of all is the Great White. Many of us see them as a mindless man-eating machine that hunt people for food. But that is completely no true, especially for the Great White. Sharks are some of the most advance predators out there, some may say the ideal predator.

Their sense of smell is unlike anything many of us can even begin to understand. Using their nose like a GPS system, sharks find their food by smell and vibrations in the water. Eye sight, not so great. Which may be why shark attacks happen. Most attacks are thought of as a tester bite. Since their eye sight is so terrible a bite is the only way a shark and see if possible food is in front of them. Most attacks aren’t even Great Whites, those to blame? Bull Sharks and Tiger Sharks, which is usually in very shallow water.

The Great White is one of the largest predators on earth and one of the most unknown creatures on this planet. They are secretive in a way. They grow from 16-20 feet and weigh up to 4,000-7,000 pounds. Not much is known past their look, teeth and food types. Mating habits? Virtually unknown. Migration habits? Little is known.

Why is so little known about them? Many scientists feel it is because of over fishing. These animals get caught in fishing nets or are hunted for shark fin soup.  The fins are cut off and the body is discarded, many times with the animal still alive, they essentially drown. A horrible death. With fewer of them being seen, one can only assume they are slowly disappearing.

Beautiful animals that aren't always the culprit for attacks on people.
Beautiful animals that aren’t always the culprit for attacks on people.

Why should we care about these creatures? Besides the fact that they are living dinosaurs, it again all comes down to balance.

Great Whites play an important role in hunting out prey that are not as healthy as others. If you remove the top predator from the ecosystem, the repercussions can be  dramatic. In some cases where sharks have declined there has been a  decrease in all the species in the ecosystem. Ecosystems have evolved over millions of years, one in which the white shark as an “apex” predator has helped to maintain. The ocean is a delicate environment, sharks keep it balanced.

What can you do to help? If you live near an ocean, volunteer for clean up. Help keep the oceans clean and clear! Can’t volunteer? That’s okay, donate. Several organizations are out their for wildlife and for specific species. My go to place is WWF, which they offer a symbolic gift for a specific species. It’s awesome. Maybe money is tight and donations aren’t in the budget. That’s okay too. Your voice is more powerful than you think it is. Spread the word on the positives of Great Whites and sharks in general.

These animals matter. Fear is natural to have, it’s okay to recognize. But don’t let it control the way you view these creatures. We are the only ones that can save them. The time is now.

 

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