Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Truth About Great Whites

The words great and white in the same sentence is enough to strike unimaginable fear into the hearts of many people. With Jaws being released on Blu-Ray this August, the time has never been better to realize the truth about great white sharks. This species of shark has been a source of great fear for several years now. As a direct result of that fear, people have avoided going into the Ocean, people have killed sharks, people have rallied against them, and people have even gone out and tried to slaughter as many as they humanly can. The truth of the matter tough, is much different.

Great white sharks are a large species of shark that have gotten a really bad rep for being vicious man eaters. The primary diet of a great white shark consists largely of marine mammals such as seals and sea lions as well as some large fish and rays. One thing is certainly not a piece of that diet. Humans. Despite great whites having killed more people than any other people in the world, they are far from the monsters people make them out to be. Lets dive into the heart of shark attacks involving great white sharks. When great whites come in contact with people, attacks occur as a case of mistaken identity. Sharks have incredible senses, but the one sense of a great white that gets negated is the sense of vision when it comes to biting. In an effort to protect their eyes, great whites roll their eyes into the back of their head to prevent any damage from occurring to their eye. It is a great adaptation that these sharks have and it works really well. Sadly for humans though, this adaptation is the one thing that has a lot of responsibility in a shark attack.

From underwater, things do not look at all what they look like on land. Lets look at some pictures.

Here's a picture of some seals. To a great white this is an amazing meal. Ok so next picture.

Here's a picture of a sea turtle. To a great white, this is a potential meal. Next picture...

Here's a picture of a guy on a surfboard.... Well... This is not a meal for a great white. The point of this though is this...

Take a look at the three pictures. On a surfboard, a person looks very similar to a seal. On a boogie board, a person looks very similar to a sea turtle. You have two hands just like a seal has two flippers. you have two feet just like seals have two rear flippers. We have an elongated body just like a seal. The bottom line is this. From underwater, seals and sea turtles look just like a person on a board. To a shark who rolls their eyes into the back on their head, they cannot tell the difference between a seal and a person. This is why great whites are known to only bite a person once. They have a very good sense of taste and will reject humans the moment they get that taste in their mouth. The problem comes in the fact that these animals are so large and hit so hard, there is really nothing that can be done to prevent serious injury.

The truth remains though. Great whites are not the vicious man eaters that Hollywood and the media has made them out to be. They are extremely intelligent and come in contact with divers almost on a daily basis and no attacks happen. The best way to avoid a bad encounter with a great white, do a few simple things that are probably good practices anyway. 1.) Never swim alone. Rip currents kill infinitely more than sharks do, so it is a good practice to swim with at least one other person. 2.) Do not swim as the sun is coming up. Sharks usually feed in the morning. Another good practice since it is not the easiest thing seeing in the Ocean when the sun is directly in your eyes. 3.) Do not swim when the sun is going down. Same thing as in the morning, sharks feed as the sun sets. It's a good practice not to swim when it gets dark anyway.

So hopefully this will help you have a better understanding about Great White Sharks. So the next time you watch Jaws, remember that Jaws is Hollywood. Reality is a totally different thing.

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