IF YOU SEE ONE OF THESE, GET OUT OF THE WATER.
Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias
Their maximum size is unknown, but is guessed to be about 6 meters. They live in most seas and oceans, particularly in temperate coastal areas. They can migrate long distances, such as between Australia and Africa or California and Hawaii. They give birth to live young and may live for up to 30 years.
Food: almost everything. They eat pretty much any bony fish, from small schooling ones to giant swordfish and tuna. But that’s not enough: they’ll also consume a variety of other sea life including cephalopods, sea birds, marine mammals, dead baleen whales, and even other sharks.
Conservation Status: ‘Vulnerable’. Their jaws, teeth and fins carry a high value in the black market despite their protected status in many areas. You can partly blame the hype created from movies and TV for that. Trophy hunting and damage to pupping and nursery areas inshore further hurt the population. They suffer from ‘capture trauma’ so are rarely able to survive after being caught.
Tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier
Live around the world in tropical and warm temperate seas. Sometimes they stay in same home area, but sometimes taking long migrations. They can live for up to 50 years; adult females reach about 3.5 meters and they birth live young.
Food: really everything. They are considered to have the most diverse diet of all sharks. They have an appetite for bony fish, turtles, birds, dolphins, jellyfish, sharks, seals, dead things and garbage (including “almost any other item discarded in the sea”). Clearly not fussy eaters.
Conservation Status: ‘Near Threatened’. They are caught as a target species in many fisheries (including recreational ones) but also as bycatch. Their fins, skin and liver oil are considered high quality. Eating all that ocean garbage can also kill them too.
Whaler shark/Blacktail reef shark, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos
They are found in the Indo-Pacific area: around Madagascar and possibly India, and from China to Australia. Adult males can be up to 2.5 meters long. They give birth to live young and like to hang around coral reefs and shallow lagoons that are near deep water. They are more active at night but during the day will form schools.
Food: Delicious reefy stuff Fish, squid, lobsters, crabs, shrimps, octopus. They get a little too excited and can enter a “frenzy feeding pattern.” Don’t stick around to see that.
Conservation Status: ‘Near Threatened’. Humans bite back, using the shark for food and other products.
Autumn Sartain’s favorite thing is spending time in nature, which is why she chose to be a wildlife biologist. For the past ten years she has wrestled sea turtles in the tropics, chased song birds in the mountains, sorted through Antarctic seafloor samples and dealt with all that silly business of gaining a postgraduate qualification in Biology. You can see some of her writing at autumnsartain.com.