Carcharodon carcharias (Great white shark)

(Linnaeus, 1758)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Galeomorphii > Lamniformes > Lamnidae

Carcharodon carcharias (Great white shark) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ]


A huge, spindle-shaped shark with small conspicuous black eyes, blunt conical snout, and large, triangular, saw-edged teeth. Colour lead grey to brown or black above, lighter on sides, abruptly white below, a black spot at rear pectoral base.


To 7.1 m TL.


Almost entire coast from Namibia to Natal; all temperate and tropical seas.


Coastal and offshore, surfline and shallow bays to offshore islands, surface to 1280 m depth.


An active, swift, powerful shark that can leap out of the water. Eats bony fish, sharks and rays, seals, dolphins and porpoises, sea birds, carrion, squid, octopi, and crabs. Bears 7 to 9 young.

Human Impact

A potentially dangerous species that infrequently attacks divers, swimmers, surfers, and boats; often investigates divers and boats without attacking. Caught by big-game anglers, by the Natal shark nets, and by lineboats for its jaws.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale 

  Iziko Museums of Cape Town, 2008

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