Great White Shark Evolutionary Senses

Human beings have come a long way from the days of believing that animals are non-sentient, unintelligent and far below the evolutionary scale of modern man. The deeper we investigate the abundant animal life on our planet, so the perceived gap between the sentience of man and megafauna closes, as we discover that beyond the ability to communicate via verbal syllables, we are not that different from the creatures we share our world with.

Great White Shark visiting White Shark Diving company

Photographer: Harry Stone @harrystone_photo

Fish have Feelings too

Science has proven that fish, contrary to popular belief, do in fact feel pain. Neurobiological scientists studying the biology of various fish species have discovered that fish produce pain relieving neurotransmitters – the only possible reason that a nervous system of any animal would produce these endorphins, is for pain relief.

Fish feel pain

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Our life-giving Ocean

The Great White Shark has evolved over 400 million years to be the guardian apex predator of our oceans. Tasked with keeping fish populations in check and healthy – this constant inherent monitoring of our oceans has a cascading effect that benefits even the tiniest algae blooms, at the very bottom of the food chain, that ultimately contribute more life-giving oxygen into our atmosphere, than the entire Amazon Rainforest.

Oxygen producing algae blooms

The image was captured on July 18 by NASA’s Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8.

Great White Shark Super Senses

The Great White Shark anatomy is geared for hunting through finely tuned senses of smell, hearing, touch, taste, sight and electromagnetism. Working together, these highly developed senses make Carcharodon Carcharias deeply attuned to its oceanic environment.

The Great White Shark’s brain has evolved to be able to outwit prey, such as fast-moving seals and dolphins, that are well known for their incredible agility and intelligence.

Shark predating on a seal in Cape Town

IMAGE CREDIT: Chris Fallows/apexpredators.com

Great White Shark Eyes & Nose

The most powerful sense of the Great White Shark is its sense of smell. Their olfactory bulb is believed to be the largest of any shark species, and they can detect even a single drop of blood in 10 billion drops of water.

The Great White Shark’s ears can hardly be seen just behind their eyes, but they are made up of cells that can detect the tiniest vibration in the water. A small ‘ear stone’ that responds to the earth’s gravity, allows the Great White Shark to know its orientation in the water while hunting.

The Great White Shark’s eyes are small in comparison to their body, but they are still a powerful aid to hunting, with a specialized retina that is divided into day vision and night vision enabling them to hunt in dark, murky waters. They have also evolved the ability to protect their eyes from attacks from their prey by rolling them back into their sockets when threatened.

Learn about the Great White Sharks eye

Diagram courtesy of: animals.howstuffworks.com

Carcharodon Carcharias Electromagnetic Abilities

The most incredible sense of the Great White Shark is their ability to sense electromagnetic fields. This ‘magic-like’ ability is called ‘electro-reception’ and allows them to navigate through the open ocean by following the map of the earth’s magnetic fields within the earth’s crust. The organ that gives the magnificent Great White Shark this ability, is called the Ampullae of Lorenzi, tiny jelly filled pores that can pick up on the power and direction of electrical currents.

This formidable apex predator’s sense of touch is enhanced by a sensory structure that runs along the length of its torpedo shaped body called the ‘Lateral Line’. This enables them to perceive the tiniest vibrations in the water given off by prey.

Great White Shark ampullae of Lorenzini

Photographer: Harry Stone @harrystone_photo

White Shark Diving Company – Where Adventure Meets Conservation!

White Shark Diving Company is a shark conservation driven company that gives guests the opportunity to experience South Africa’s sharks up-close, in an educational, adrenaline fuelled adventure that will leave visitors with a sense of awe, wonder, respect and a deeper understanding of the incredible sharks that live along the South African Coast.

Join our shark cage diving trips in Gansbaai for a one-day adventure or combine our shark cage diving tours with a variety of other incredible adventures in the area, from Whale watching, shark breaching, Zip Lining – to mind blowing Whale watching flights that will give you an unforgettable aerial view of the majesty of the Overberg coastline.

 

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Shark & Marine Research Institute

Our Research Institute, Shark & Marine Research Institute was founded to conduct essential research in collaboration with our Government and Universities to help gain a better understanding of the threats facing our vulnerable shark populations, so that the powers that be can make better management decisions that will preserve our incredible sharks for future generations to come.

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