How Great Whites Size Each Other Up

Image: Teddy Fotiou

In popular culture, great white sharks are often portrayed as bloodthirsty killers that devour whatever living creatures get in their way — but they are actually more concerned with each other. 

Thanks to modern research and interactions with these massive fish, we have developed a thorough understanding of their relationships with others. While great whites are wild animals that can and do attack and kill humans, they are certainly not focused on eating people.

Great white sharks are quite territorial, and in places where they are common and gather in huge numbers, they often size each other up. They do this in a behavior known as “parallel swimming”. Here, two great whites swim side-by-side to figure out who is bigger. The smaller shark must leave the area or suffer the wrath of the bigger shark(s).

Great white sharks live according to an occasionally brutal dominance hierarchy. In this hierarchy, females dominate males; larger sharks dominate smaller sharks; and resident sharks dominate newcomers.

With that in mind, great white sharks have just as many problems as other sea creatures. Sure, they are pretty much at the top of the ocean’s food chain except for killer whales, but in their own hierarchy, size truly matters. We have nothing but sympathy for abnormally small great whites.

Watch what happens when the aggression reaches a climax and a Great White Shark actually decides to take a bite out of another shark in the video below…

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