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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.

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