Shark Attack - How a Great White Surprises its Prey

Great Whites live mostly in temperate waters and capture their favorite prey (sea mammals, especially seals and sea lions) by surprise.  This video depicts such a surprise attack.

Positioning itself below the unsuspecting seal, the great white swims upward at a very fast rate.  Then it bursts out of the water, in a breaching movement, and falls back into the sea with the prey in its mouth.

A Great White does not chew its food.  It rips off pieces of prey, then swallows the chunks whole.  The teeth of a Great White can be as long as two-and-a-half inches (5.7 centimeters).  Their sense of seeing, hearing and smelling is very good (which helps them in the hunt).

During the slave-trade years, some slavers threw their "cargo" (that is, human beings who had been kidnapped and were aboard ship as slaves) overboard so they could avoid paying import fees on sick slaves.  When Parliament abolished the slave trade, slavers who were about to be "caught" with illegal slaves aboard ship threw their "cargo" overboard (so they could avoid paying stiff fines for each illegal slave).  

When those events occurred, sharks (although typically not Great Whites) were attracted by the discarded "cargo."  

Clip from the BBC's award-winning series Planet Earth.

Media Credits

This clip is from Planet Earth, the BBC’s award-winning nature documentary series produced by Alastair Fothergill and narrated by David Attenborough.  Copyright, BBC, all rights reserved.  Clip provided here as fair use for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with the series.


It was originally broadcast, in the UK, beginning on the 5th of March, 2006.  The entire series, which is filled with unbelievable photography, took about a decade to complete.


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"Shark Attack - How a Great White Surprises its Prey" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jun 05, 2020.
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