Great white sharks are some of the most notorious inhabitants of the sea. They are depicted in folklore and Hollywood as giants of ancient proportions. This has left many people wondering, out of curiosity and/or fear, how big these marine leviathans really are.
As many young land animals (including humans) are born as adorable, awkwardly proportioned examples of their species, the white shark enters the world as a perfectly proportioned miniature replica of the adult it will become. Pregnant female whites are caught with pups inside measuring 2.5 -3 feet long, and the smallest sharks found in fishing nets have been around 4.5 feet. It has led many to think that whites are born in a length of 4-5 feet.
An adult white shark is typically between 13 and 17 feet long and weighs 1,500-2,500 lbs. A fully mature female averages 15-16 feet long, and older males average 12-14 ft.
Anyone who’s a fan of the film Jaws, recalls Quint the shark hunter saying with certainty that the monster shark terrorizing the waters near Amity Island was 25 feet long. Can these sharks get that big?
Game fishers and shark hunters for more than a century have reported seeing/catching white sharks over 20 feet long, but just about all of these claims have been unconfirmed or later disproven. As any fisherman will tell you, it isn’t uncommon to overestimate the size of a prized catch – due to prideful exaggeration and wishful thinking. Scientists and shark experts use the jaws and teeth of those deceased animals to retroactively estimate the actual size of”record breaking sharks,” and almost always find them to be several feet shorter than advertised. This can be also true when”official measurements” of the shark in the docks differ from the initial claims of the proud angler who landed it. Over a few indignant shark fishermen believe the concept that a dead fish shrinks after a time period out of water, and that their great white decoration had gotten considerably smaller between the time it was captured and the time that somebody official had gotten around to measuring it!
A few of those record-length white sharks weighed well over 3,000 pounds, yet even this is a source of controversy and disagreement. Great whites are captured with several hundred pounds of meat in their stomachs. Researchers and fisherman still argue amongst themselves as to whether or not the final recorded weight of the shark must include stomach contents.
The largest great white sharks that have been accurately and reliably measured have been between 19 and 21 feet long. Even at a”mere 17 ft,” great white sharks hold the distinction of being the largest predatory fish in the modern-day seas.