How Do Great White Sharks Reproduce?

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  • The great white shark is probably the most commonly known of all the sharks. With its gruesome appearance, wide gaping mouth and rows of sharp teeth, it is easy to see why it is considered one of the scariest sharks in the ocean. Despite the fame and reputation great white sharks have, there is surprisingly little known about the mating process of great whites. These predators feed primarily on seals, and despite their reputation, rarely hunt humans. When humans are attacked, it is believed that the shark mistook them for a seal.

Mating

  • No one has actually ever seen great white sharks mate. It is known that males are identified by organs that deliver sperm, which extend from the pelvic fins. Female sharks have been shown to have bite scars along their gills, which is speculated to be received from males while mating. There is some evidence suggesting that the hypnotic effect that can result from a large feast could induce mating.

    It takes 15 years for great white sharks to reach sexual maturity. Just like mating, it's not sure how long a great white lives for, but the number is thought to be between 30 to over 100 years.

Giving Birth

  • Like mating, birth has never been observed, but pregnant females have been observed. The shark has eggs that develop in the female's uterus. The gestation period is 11 months, and the shark's jaws are developed in the first month. It's thought that females only give birth every other year. After the gestation period is completed, females usually give birth from 4 to 11 babies. It's thought that the baby sharks actually consume one another while in utero, which results in the strongest babies being born. This is a common practice in several predatory species in nature. The delivery takes place in the period that transitions spring to summer, and when giving birth, the female shark has to fast in order to prevent herself from consuming her young after they are born. It's also thought that sharks migrate to the west Pacific to breed, because there have been reports of pregnant females in Japan, yet not in California.

    Because of the slow reproduction of the great white shark, there is the concern that the species will become extinct due to overfishing.

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