About White Sharks

White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias), also called great white sharks, are one of the ocean’s primary predators, and are fascinating creatures. Yet, despite the enormously popular and scientific interest in them, there is still much we do not know about white shark behavior and biology. These sharks are still misunderstood among many as vicious man-eaters, as opposed to the important fish they are.

Shark Stewards partners in the White Shark Stewardship program with the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and State of California educating the public and visitors to the Sanctuary on biology, threats to humans and sharks. Below are some common questions about white sharks, with answers from CDFW experts:

Text by Carrie Wilson, Associate Marine Biologist, and Mary Patyten, Research Writer.

White sharks are highly visual predators, here investigating the photographer. ©David McGuire

How common are shark attacks on humans?

What do white sharks typically eat?

How large do white sharks get?

Where do white sharks occur?

What is the white sharks’ role in the marine ecosystem?

How large is the white shark population?

What do scientists know about the white shark population?

Are there any examples of how scientists are trying to get a better handle on how large white shark populations are?

white shark
Adult white sharks migrate thousands of miles annually, returning to the west coast each Sharktober ©David McGuire

Is fishing for white sharks illegal?

Are white sharks protected all over the world?

What groups were in favor of white shark protection in California?

How do you tell white sharks from other species of sharks?

How often do white sharks reproduce?

How can people avoid white shark attacks?

How do white sharks find their prey?