Great white sharks are the world’s largest predatory fish. They are quite different from other types of sharks. You have probably heard about cold-blooded sharks and warm-blooded sharks. So are great white sharks warm-blooded?
Great white sharks are endothermic, which means they are warm-blooded. Their bodies have different and highly developed blood vessels that help them keep their body temperature warm. If you are curious about learning about warm-blooded white sharks, read the whole blog!
Animals with warm blood can maintain their internal body temperature regardless of the ambient temperature. Great white sharks have warm blood, whereas most other sharks are cold blooded, meaning they thrive in colder ocean temperatures.
To do this, their bodies contain a specialized system of blood vessels called the retia mirabilia. The blood vessels reroute blood to organs such as the gills and allow them to keep their organs warm.
White sharks, also known as “lamnid sharks,” have capabilities that most other fish do not: the counter current heat exchange. This system allows white sharks to maintain an internal body temperature that is 10-15 C° warmer than the water around them. Thus, if a white shark is swimming in water with a temperature of 9 C, its own body temperature will be 19-24 C.
Not only can great white sharks adjust their constant body temperatures according to their surroundings, but also, the stomach temperatures of these animals can remain up to 57°F (14°C) warmer than the surrounding water’s temperature!
Because of their warmer blood, they don’t slow down as much in colder waters, allowing them to maintain quick reflexes for hunting and move farther from the equator’s warm, tropical waters. The advantage of being warm blooded sharks is that they can swim faster than other sharks, even in the summer.
However, there are five other shark species in the ocean that are warm-blooded such as shortfin makos (Isurus oxyrinchus), longfin makos (Isurus paucus), porbeagles (Lamna nasus), and salmon (Lamna ditropis).
We know heat can cause sweating. Does that mean great white sharks sweat or shiver because they are warm-blooded? The situation with sweating for great sharks, however, is different.
Great white sharks do not sweat or shiver because of their warm blood. They can maintain their internal temperature by exchanging heat.
The swimming muscles of these fish heat deoxygenated blood, which is then exchanged with the cold arterial blood from the gills by their specialized blood vessel system. They can maintain a temperature inside that is higher than the water around them in this way. These enable them to hunt for prey by plunging into the deep, icy water.
Incredible as it may seem, great white sharks can actually handle temperatures down to near freezing. Not all great whites are capable of this — the younger ones are less hardy — but the older and larger great whites have been found in water temperatures as low as 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
How is this possible? It’s thanks to two amazing abilities: their enormous size and their specialized adaptation known as ‘counter-current heat exchanger’, which circulates blood through the body, so they don’t lose as much heat as animals that lack it.
So even though most people don’t relish this thought, a bump in our oceans’ average temperature could eventually lead to more giant great white sharks swimming around our waters!
Blood circulation is different and unique in great white sharks. Their special blood circulation system, known as “counter current heat exchange,” keeps their body +/- 10-15 C° warmer than the ambient temperature.
Therefore, a white shark’s body temperature will be between 19 and 24 degrees Celsius if it is in water that is 9 degrees Celsius.
They produce all of this heat thanks to long muscles that run down the length of their bodies. These muscles charge a “white muscle” core that is prepared for quick bursts of energy even in cold environments.
For this reason, they are the top predator in our temperate seas. This is referred to as heterothermy.
The circulatory system of white sharks converts to heat and distributes it throughout the whole body to warm its organs. By doing this, the body temperature of white sharks rises, and they stay warm. The adaptation to warming the blood is called regional endothermy.
The terms for cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals are ectothermy and endothermy. Both warm blooded and cold-blooded animals have some differences in them. Such warm-blooded sharks can swim faster than cold blooded sharks.
Warm blooded sharks have high metabolic requirements. On the other hand, cold blooded sharks have lower requirements. Cold blooded sharks don’t need to eat often; however, warm-blooded sharks need food every day.
Sharks with warm blood have a quicker recovery time after exertion. But cold-blooded sharks cannot recover quickly. Cold-blooded sharks can lose body heat through their gills when swimming in icy water.
Another interesting difference between warm and cold-blooded sharks is that cold blooded sharks have amazing adaptation skills because they have to migrate from one place to another during the summer. Warm-blooded sharks do not require the ability to adapt because they do not need to migrate.
Cold blooded sharks can live for a very long time because their metabolic system is better than that of warm-blooded sharks. Moreover, they can adapt to anything easily. On the other hand, warm-blooded great white sharks live shorter lives than cold-blooded sharks.
Tiger sharks are not warm-blooded. Tiger sharks are cold-blooded, meaning they have to depend on the weather to regulate their temperatures. Tiger sharks migrate from one place to another if the temperature does not suit them.
The ideal temperature for a tiger shark is 80 degrees. During the winter season, tiger sharks can be found in Florida and the Bahamas. However, after winter, they travel farther north.
Great white sharks are endothermic. Animals that can control their body temperature according to the environment are called endothermic. These animals have high-developed blood vessels that allow them to control their body temperature. Since great white sharks can control their body temperature, they are considered endothermic.
Orcas, also known as killer whales, are cold blooded. Killer whales cannot control their body temperature in relation to the environment. which is why orcas are cold-blooded like all other mammals.
Tropical oceans can make white sharks overheat and become uncomfortable. In tropical areas, the water is warm, and if a warm-blooded shark stays in tropical oceans, its body will be overheated.
However, great white sharks occasionally come into the tropical ocean area.
The answer to “Are great white sharks warm-blooded?” has been answered thoroughly in this blog. People need to educate themselves more about these shark facts. Sharks are the world’s oldest fish, having existed for over 425 million years.
However, it is safe to assume that the great white shark is an endothermic, or warm-blooded, animal. They have specialized blood vessel systems that allow heat from the body to be transferred into incoming arterial blood from the gills by passing through heating muscles.