White shark

A White Shark

Scientific name

Carcharadon carcharias

Status in NSW



White Sharks have a torpedo-shaped body, coloured grey to grey-brown on the upper surface and white below. They have large, serrated triangular teeth, very small second dorsal and anal fins, and a distinct keel before the broad crescent-shaped tail. The mouth contains large, serrated and triangular teeth.

Species similar in appearance

They are occasionally mistaken for the Mako Shark, but the Mako's upper body is blue and they have long slender pointed teeth.


White Sharks measure around 120-150 cm at birth and can grow to at least 6 m in length, although there are unconfirmed reports of individuals up to 7 m.

A White Shark


White Sharks are found throughout the world in temperate and subtropical oceans, with a preference for cooler waters, which includes the coastal waters of NSW.


White Sharks are typically found from inshore habitats (e.g. islands, rocky reefs and shallow coastal bays) to the outer continental shelf and slope areas. Within Australian waters, the majority of recorded White Shark movements occur between the coast and the 100 metre depth contour; however both adults and juveniles have been recorded diving to depths of over 1,200 m. Individuals may travel long distances in a relatively short time, but can remain in the same area for weeks or even months. In NSW, the Stockton Beach/Hawks Nest area has been identified as a primary residency region for juvenile White Sharks.

A White Shark

Why is the White Shark threatened?

  • Mortality related to accidental (bycatch) or illegal (targeted) fishing by commercial and recreational fisheries;
  • Illegal trade in White Shark products;
  • Habitat modification (overfishing) and climate change (including changes in sea temperature, ocean currents and acidification);
  • Coastal habitat degradation and anthropogenic activities along the coast;
  • Mortality related to shark control activities (beach meshing);
  • Targeting by game-fishers prior to their protection;
  • White Sharks have a very low potential for population recovery due to their low reproductive rate, late maturation, long lifespan and low natural mortality.

A White Shark

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