The adult Great White Shark is truly a sight to behold. The massive bulk and the true length of it makes it the perfect marine predator. A single bite from a Great White Shark can take in up to 14 kg (31 lb) of flesh, with the ability to consume several hundred kilograms of food. Only the larger Orca, or Killer Whale, will prey on Great Whites. The pups are born measuring about 1.2 m (3.9 ft) and have a growth rate of about 25 cm (9.8in) every year. Larger Great White females can grow up to 6.1 m (20 ft) in length and weigh in at 1905 kg (4200 lb), at maturity. On average though, males grow to a length of 3.4 – 4.0 m (11 – 13 ft), weighing 522 – 771 kg (1151 – 1700 lb), and females 4.6 – 4.9 m (15 – 16 ft), weighing 680 – 1110 kg (1500 – 2450 lb).

great white shark

Many maximum size reports are debatable due to it being rough estimations performed under questionable circumstances. According to experts, such as J. E. Randall, the largest, reliably measured Great White Shark, was 6.0 m (19.7 ft) in length, from Ledge Point in Western Australia in 1987. The Canadian Shark Research Centre has confirmed a female caught by David Mckendrick, off Prince Edward Island in 1988, being 6.1 m (20 ft) in length. The International Game Fish Association (IGFA), recognizes the largest Great White, as the one caught in 1959, by Alf Dean in Australian waters, weighing 1208 kg (2663 lb).

A very large amount of unconfirmed reports also exist. The Guinness Book of World Records listed two specimens as being the largest. A 10.9 m (36 ft) shark was caught in the 1870s in Australian waters, near Port Fairy. The other was found trapped in a Herring weir, in New Brunswick, Canada, in the 1930s. This shark was reported measuring 11.3 m (37 ft) in length. In 1970, J. E. Randall examined the jaws of the Port Fairy shark, confirming that a mistake was made in the measurements in 1870. The shark was much smaller, measuring about 5 m (16.4 ft). The New Brunswick shark was a misidentified Basking Shark, having a similar body shape as a Great White.

Great White Shark

Many modern-day reports also exist, with unconfirmed reports of over 7.0 m (23 ft). J. E. Randall examined the evidence and confirmed that the shark may very well have been over 6.1 m (20 ft). A very large female Great White was nicknamed “Deep Blue”, estimated at 6.1 m (20 ft). During the filming of a 2014 episode of Shark Week, off Guadalupe, she was filmed and appears in the episode called “Jaws Strikes Back”. She was seen again in January 2019, scavenging a Sperm Whale carcass near Ohau. The infamously named “Submarine”, patrolled False Bay, near Cape Town, in the 1980s. It was said that the Great White Shark was well over 7 m (23 ft). Rumors stated that the shark’s size was greatly exaggerated, or that the shark was even non-existent. Craig Anthony Ferreira, a notable shark expert in South Africa, and his father gave witness accounts of a considerably powerful and large Great White Shark. The size was never confirmed, due to the shark escaping every time it was hooked. Ferreira’s participation in the four encounters they had with “Submarine”, is described in great detail in his book, “Great White Sharks On Their Best Behaviour”.

So the search for proof of larger than 7 m (23 ft) Great White Sharks will continue. With the advanced technology, conservation and amount of researchers involved nowadays, the chances of obtaining the needed proof, is a lot better than in the 1980s. Let’s hope that if you do happen to encounter one of these sharks, that you are in the safety of a shark diving cage.