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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Creature Feature: Great White Shark

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In this series, the Shark Trust will be sharing amazing facts about different species of sharks and what you can do to help protect them.


This supreme apex predator is perfectly adapted to their environment. With a large torpedo shaped body and powerful tail they’re truly built for speed. At top speed they can reach up to 25mph.

White Sharks belong to a group of sharks (known as the mackerel sharks) who have a remarkable adaptation that enables them to retain warmth. This makes them much more efficient hunters.

Sharks lose a lot of heat through their gills, where blood vessels are exposed to the cooler water. To minimise heat loss mackerel sharks have a network of tiny capillaries which act as a heat exchange system (known as a rete mirabile). Blood vessels carrying warm deoxygenated blood to the gills pass alongside cold oxygenated blood going to the body. As they pass in opposite directions heat is exchanged and returned to the muscles.

Amazingly the body temperature of mackerel sharks can be 10°C higher than the surrounding water.

White Sharks vary in colour (from olive to brown or grey) with a white underbelly, which is what is thought to have given them their name. This counter shading acts as camouflage. Concealed from above and below, they’re able to sneak up on unsuspecting prey.

When turned on their back, White Sharks enter a trance-like state known as tonic immobility. It’s thought that being upside down disorientates them, causing this unusual response. The behaviour could be related to mating but nobody knows for sure.

In some cases Orca have figured out how to use this to their advantage. Off the coast of California they’ve been seen preying on White Sharks, pinning them upside down. Unable to respond, the shark suffocates and is then eaten.

As a top predator White Sharks play a key role in keeping our oceans healthy. They do this by keeping other populations in check and preying on the sick and old. This prevents the spread of disease and helps to improve the gene pool.

Scientists estimate that White Sharks can live 70 years or more. Making them one of the longest-living sharks!

  • SCIENTIFIC NAME: Carcharodon carcharias
  • FAMILY: Lamnidae (Mackerel Sharks)
  • MAXIMUM SIZE: 6m
  • DIET: They have a varied diet including, fish, sharks, rays, sea mammals and birds. They’re also opportunistic feeders and will scavenge on dead whales.
  • DISTRIBUTION: Widespread but mostly found in temperate seas. Hot spots include: South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Northeast US, California and the Pacific coast of Mexico.
  • HABITAT: Shallow and coastal waters. They also travel across the open ocean, at depths of 0-300m. Commonly aggregate around rocky reefs near colonies of seals, sea lions, and walruses.
  • CONSERVATION STATUS: Vulnerable

Love White Sharks? Find out more about this mighty ocean predator and support vital White Shark research by adopting a White Shark today by clicking here.

The Shark Trust is the leading UK-based shark conservation charity. The team works globally to safeguard the future of sharks, and their close cousins, the skates and rays. Engaging with a global network of scientists, policymakers, conservation professionals, businesses and supporters, to further shark conservation. Established in 1997 to provide a voice for UK sharks, the Shark Trust has an ever-growing number of passionate supporters. And together we're creating positive change for sharks around the world. Want to join us and help protect sharks around the world? Click here! www.sharktrust.org

Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Ana Filipa Sobral, Founder of The Manta Catalog Project in the Azores (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Ana Filipa Sobral, Founder and Project Leader of The Manta Catalog Project in the Azores.

Ana Filipa Sobral is a marine biologist and conservationist based in the Azores Islands. She moved to the Azores in 2011 and once there, realised that this was one of the few places in the world where Sicklefin Devil Rays (Mobula tarapacana) gather in large groups, making it a strategic place to study them. She started the The Manta Catalog Project and through this project, collects photo ID and occurrence data on Mobulid Rays, with the precious help of divers and dive operators as citizen scientists.

Ana is also finishing her PhD which focuses on population genetics and connectivity of migratory elasmobranchs in oceanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The main goal fueling my research has been to help fill the knowledge gaps on elasmobranch biology and ecology to ultimately assist in the design of effective conservation and management plans aimed at protecting their populations in this remote region of the North Atlantic Ocean.

You can find out more about Ana’s important work at: https://mantacatalogazores.wixsite.com/mobulaid/project.


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Marine Life & Conservation

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Dan Abbott of Save The Med Foundation

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Gemma and Ian chat to Dan Abbott.  Dan works at Save The Med Foundation.  He is incredibly passionate about marine conservation, underwater filmmaking, drones and helping people understand the world of sharks. It’s probably safe to say sharks are his main passion, and he has spent the last five years traveling around the world filming various species including great white sharks, bull sharks, tiger sharks and hammerhead sharks.

Have a listen here:

Find out more here:


Find more podcast episodes and information at the new www.thebigscuba.com  website and on most social platforms @thebigscuba

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