Marine Biology and the Great White


I found last weeks video on Sylvia Earle incredibly inspiring. I enjoyed seeing the depths of the ocean as a new place to explore and learn from rather than overlooking it and simply being afraid of the “great beyond”. As a woman it has always been difficult pushing through the boundaries of several fields of study. The hardest being those in math and science. For a woman to single handedly have such a large and lasting impact on marine biology led me to wonder who else has broken that barrier. Who else has succeeded in that field? For my blog post this week I wanted to explore the world of Marine Biology, what other people had major impacts on the filed of study, and a terrifying yet peaceful species that was studied.

Ryan Johnson is a marine biologist that specialized in working with and studying sharks. In 1998 Ryan was tasked with studying and documenting a species of sharks in South Africa we all know and fear…. THE GREAT WHITE..bum bum bummm. His studies took place on the Dyer islands, he spent a year living on there where he started his research into the Great White Shark’s life history. In 2007, Ryan co-founded Oceans Research to do continuing studies on tagged sharks.

The great white shark, also known as the great white, white pointer, white shark, and white death are feared and respected for their size, strength, and shear terrifying appearance. An adult male great white averages fifteen feet in length and and a whopping five thousand pounds in weight. A fifteen foot shark would be like taking me and stacking two more of me ontop. That is a huge shark. With their infamous mouths lined with up to 300 serrated, triangular teeth arranged in several rows,  these carnivorous creatures of the deep feast on a variety of sea life including: seal lions, seals, small toothed whales like beluga’s, otters (sob), and sea turtles.

Great whites are the cause of one-third to one-half of the worlds shark attacks per year. Like humans, it seems great white sharks have a sense of curiosity as well. Though most of these attacks are not fatal, research has shown these sharks are merely curious of what is swimming with them in the water. Since it is well known that humans look vaguely similar to seals when we go out surfing I would not blame a shark for wanting to explore what it’s next meal could be, especially if that meal looked like it usually does under the water.

Fun fact: although the great white sharks are primarily gray to blend in with the oceans rocky floor, they are named for their piercing white underbellies.

Great whites can be found in the cooler coastal waters throughout the world. However, research shows the Florida actually leads the charts with the most shark attacks, yet which of those are caused specifically by great whites are unknown.

It was fun getting to learn more about a species I have feared for so long now. It was also amazing getting to see those baby hammerhead sharks on the beach exploration today in class!


2 thoughts on “Marine Biology and the Great White

  1. I really enjoyed your post, it was easy to read and i found all the information about the great white shark super interesting too. The fact that they are so big is fascinating. I actually have seen a dead great white shark that was caught off the coast of Tanzania when i was about 15.
    The shark that was caught off the coast of tanzania was only about 12 feet in length but that is still huge. To a point that when they hung it up on the fishing hook it’s head tilted just to fit on the land.
    It is a terrifying experience to see a great white even dead. None the less your post really grabbed my attention, i have always had a curiosity about sharks, seeing as there are so many in the area where i grew up i always had a fascination.

  2. I am also incredibly afraid of the great white and any shark in general. I felt that Sylvia Earle’s documentary eased this tension for me a bit. I also didn’t know that the great white was called that because of its belly and not its grayish tint (I always thought the name was off since they looked mainly gray), so thank you for clarifying this to me! Sharks are fascinating to me now, and I want to explore more about them. They must also feel really good to touch because of they smooth skin. I remember going to Mote a touching the cow nose rays. They vaguely resembled sharks and I loved how smooth they felt.

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