10 Things You Never Knew about Sharks

The White Shark Diving Company operates in the stunning region of Gansbaai and presents a unique opportunity to really encounter the Great White Shark, a magnificent creature which is often sadly misunderstood. This shark cage diving company employs ethical, eco-friendly business practices and prioritises the well-being of the shark and also attempts to correct some of the more damaging misperceptions people have about these animals. Witnessing the Great White Shark in its natural environment in such close proximity is a privilege not many can boast of, which will instil in you an overwhelming respect and love for the apex predators.

Here are ten facts you may not know about sharks – educating yourself is important in order to rid yourself of the unfortunate and often ignorant stereotypical assumptions which many people make about Great Whites. Knowing something about their behaviour and cunning hunting techniques will also enhance your up-close experience with them, as you will be able to interpret what they are doing and ‘speak their language.’

  1. A shady character The Great White is counter-shaded with a charcoal-to-black or grey topside (dorsal surface), while it is completely white underneath. This allows it to use the light reflecting through the water to its advantage – if you look down from the surface of the ocean to the depths below it is dark and the shark’s grey-black dorsal surface makes it nearly impossible to spot. If you look up from the bottom of the sea towards the surface it becomes lighter, so the shark’s white underside blends in perfectly, meaning that unsuspecting prey cannot detect its presence.
  2. Size matters The immense predator grows to an astonishing 6.1 metres and can weigh over 2000kgs, with the females growing larger than the males.
  3. Sense sensations Humans only have five senses while the Great White has six. Imagine what a different experience we would have of the world if we also enjoyed electroreception. Sharks use this special sixth sense in order to perceive natural electrical stimulus, which alert them to objects surrounding them. An electric field is transmitted by all animals and sharks are able to detect these signals, making it easier for them to find their prey.
  4. It’s a colourful world Sharks see in colour and are able to see at night and during the day. They don’t have eyelids and roll their eyes to the back of their heads in an effort to protect them.
  5. A drop in the ocean Great Whites have the strongest sense of smell out of all the sharks and are able to detect one tiny drop of blood in a million parts water.
  6. A fussy eater Great Whites have taste buds located in their mouth and throat and are quite particular about what they will eat – more so than other shark species.
  7. A specialised hair ball? The sharks have a lateral line of specialised cells that resemble hair, which starts in their tail and travels to their brain and detects tiny changes in the water such as vibrations and currents.
  8. A high flyer The phenomenal breaching behaviour of Great Whites was first discovered at Dyer Island in Gansbaai and involves the shark reaching terminal momentum and launching its entire body out of the sea, potentially over 2m into the air. This is a strategic hunting technique, used to stalk unsuspecting seals.
  9. Old age Sharks grow slowly, with males maturing only after ten years and females after 15 years. They often live to the ripe old age of sixty. Sharks give birth to only two to 10 pups and gestation is believed to be two years.
  10. A tragic fact It is a tragic reflection on humanity that we manage to kill over 100 million sharks a year, while on average only five shark-related human deaths happen annually. It raises the question, who is the real bad guy here?

Sharks are beautiful, majestic animals that we need to learn more about, respect and conserve. The White Shark Diving Company, South Africa, is dedicated to allowing people to truly encounter and understand these predators, through unforgettable shark cage diving experiences.