Animals no image

Published on June 11th, 2010 | by Yellow Magpie


Great White Shark: Supreme Senses

They may pervade both children and adult’s nightmares. We may regard their deathly teeth as being the closest approximation in nature to the grim reaper itself. They may disturb our souls at the deepest, darkest level. And they even may remind us of both our mortality and lack of control. They are, of course, the Great White Sharks.

But yet these representations of the White Shark are no truer than films are real.

The Great White Shark is one of the most amazing creatures that we have the good fortune to share our planet with. The more we learn about this incredible creature, the more we realise that it is us who are distorting reality. For this species of shark is far from being a large fish with huge jaws, it is one of the most sophisticated creatures on our blue planet, Earth.

Great White Shark

Glassy Black Eyes

Apart from their jaws, one of the most recognisible and awe-inspiring sights of a Great White is its eyes. Jet black and with no eye-lids, it is one of the most mesmerising sights in nature.

The  eyes of the Great Whites are highly unusual even for sharks. They are simply enormous, much larger than other species of shark. It is thought that Great Whites rely on their vision much more than other sharks.

However, although their eyes never close, they do move backwards to avoid damage when they are engaging prey. This protects their valuable visionary organs from potentially damaging impacts.

Another remarkable thing about the eyes of the Great White Shark are their durability. They are incredibly tough, in fact, it is very hard to cut through with even the sharpest of knives.

Great White Shark Photo By Terry Goss

Multi-sensory Hunting Specialists

Because the Great White hunts over remarkably large expanses of water, it needs incredibly sophisticated senses to detect prey. Otherwise, it would be in danger of starving. It does this through a wide range of specialist senses, many of which are completely alien to humans and simply impossible for us to fully understand.

Scent Sensitive

Their noses are highly sensitive to picking out scents in the water. Water is sucked in one way and diverted out through another route. Their nostrils are so sensitive that the shark can compare the two nostrils which tell the shark in which vicinity its prey lies. Not only can they smell blood from miles away, they can tell in which direction it came from.

Sonar Receiver

Great Whites have a sensitive organ to pick up sound and disturbances in the water. The lateral line runs nearly the whole length of the sharks body just above the gills and is found on both sides. Thus the shark can distinguish sounds and sonic disturbances coming from any direction. In essence, the shark is a giant sonar receiver.

Sharks' Lateral Line Photo By Chris Huh

Electromagnetic Detection

On the front of the shark, all along its face are organs called the ampullae of Lorenzini. These tiny pin-prick marks detect the electro-magnetic fields that every living organism produces. The ampullae of Lorenzini are used to ascertain precisely were its prey lies. This is highly useful when the animal rolls backs its eyes for protection when it is trying to bite its prey.

Ampullae Of Lorenzini Visible On A Tiger Shark Photo By Albert Kok

The face of a shark is highly sensitive and they have been known to go into temporary shock when their noses are touched forcibly. This is thought to be caused by their senses becoming overloaded.

Great White Brain: Sensory Processing Machine

Because the Great White Shark is so reliant upon its senses, a huge amount of its brain is devoted solely to processing the huge amount of sensory information that it is bombarded with on a constant basis. Therefore, it is believed that Great Whites spend little time rationalising problems, unlike dolphins and humans, and survive on a more instinctual basis.

Although this instinctual assertion is being challenged by shark behaviourists.

Great Whites are far from mindless predators. They are one of the most advanced creatures on our planet, an animal that has evolved to be as efficient as possible through over 400 million years of evolution.

Great White Shark Reality

Contrary to the myths, they pose very little danger to people. Being attacked by a Great White Shark is a very rare occurrence. Being fatally attacked is even rarer still.

However, despite all the evidence and all the facts that we now know, the sight of a huge Great White Shark bursting through the water’s surface, teeth barred in preparation for an assault, is a very difficult image to remove from our subconsciousness. But we should still try to reassess our unwarranted fears.

Recommended Amazon Reading

Check out Yellow Magpie’s The Strange And Complex Behaviour Of The Great White Shark, Great White Shark: Adapted Athlete and Great White Shark: The Reality Of Its Jaws for further insight into this complicated creature.

Great White Shark by Richard Ellis and John McCosker is a fascinating book on the subject of White Sharks. It comprehensively explores the shark’s biology and why it should be conserved.

At present, the Great White Shark is one of the most endangered species on the planet and this is completely unnecessary.
For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom you can access Great White Shark here.
For those living in Canada you can obtain Great White Shark from here.
For Germany: Great White Shark.
For France: Great White Shark.

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