The great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), also known as the great white, white shark or white pointer, is a species of large mackerel shark which can be found in the coastal surface waters of all the major oceans. The great white shark is notable for its size, with larger female individuals growing to 6.1 m (20 ft) in length and 1,905 kg (4,200 lb) in weight at maturity. However most are smaller, males measuring 3.4 to 4.0 m (11 to 13 ft) and females 4.6 to 4.9 m (15 to 16 ft) on average. According to a 2014 study the lifespan of great white sharks is estimated to be as long as 70 years or more, well above previous estimates, making it one of the longest lived cartilaginous fish currently known. According to the same study, male great white sharks take 26 years to reach sexual maturity, while the females take 33 years to be ready to produce offspring. Great white sharks can swim at speeds of over 56 km/h (35 mph), and can swim to depths of 1,200 m (3,900 ft).
The great white shark has no known natural predators other than, on very rare occasions, the killer whale. The great white shark is arguably the world’s largest known extant macropredatory fish, and is one of the primary predators of marine mammals. It is also known to prey upon a variety of other marine animals, including fish and seabirds. It is the only known surviving species of its genus Carcharodon, and is ranked first in having the most recorded shark bite incidents on humans.
The species faces numerous ecological challenges which has resulted in international protection. The IUCN lists the great white shark as a vulnerable species, and it is included in Appendix II of CITES. It is also protected by several national governments such as Australia (as of 2018).
The novel Jaws by Peter Benchley and the subsequent film by Steven Spielberg depicted the great white shark as a “ferocious man eater“. Humans are not the preferred prey of the great white shark, but, nevertheless, the great white is responsible for the largest number of reported and identified fatal unprovoked shark attacks on humans. The great white shark has also been called the white death.