A great white shark opens it mouth just before it attacks its prey with a crippling, powerful bite.  After the prey has been disabled, the shark will often wait for it to weaken from blood loss before resuming the attack.  If the shark looses a tooth in the course of the bite, a replacement just behind it will move forward to take its place, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

An enormous great white shark, Guadalupe Island, Mexico, Carcharodon carcharias.

A great white shark swims through the clear waters of Isla Guadalupe, far offshore of the Pacific Coast of Baja California.  Guadalupe Island is host to a concentration of large great white sharks, which visit the island to feed on pinnipeds and tuna, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

A great white shark swims through the clear waters of Isla Guadalupe, far offshore of the Pacific Coast of Baja California. Guadalupe Island is host to a concentration of large great white sharks, which visit the island to feed on pinnipeds and tuna. Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Mexico.

A great white shark swims through the clear waters of Isla Guadalupe, far offshore of the Pacific Coast of Mexico's Baja California. Guadalupe Island is host to a concentration of large great white sharks, which visit the island to feed on pinnipeds and use it as a staging area before journeying farther into the Pacific ocean, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island

The great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) occurs naturally in all temperate marine waters. Usually between 9 and 12 feet long (3-4m), it can grow to 20 feet (6.5m) and weigh over two tons. The great white sharks depicted in these photos were encountered at Guadalupe Island, Mexico, although recent scientific evidence suggests that the Isla Guadalupe white sharks roam north through California waters and, perhaps, as far west as the Hawaiian Islands. Great white sharks are predators, probably the most feared in the world. They begin life feeding on all kinds of fishes, small rays and sharks, gradually taking on larger fat-rich blubbery marine mammals such as seals, sea lions and elephant seals. Much contemporary scientific study focuses on the shark -- pinniped relationship, however the importance of this interaction may be overstated simply because the study of white sharks near land-based pinniped rookeries is considerably easier than the study of other white shark predation modes. Known for their fearsome sudden attacks, great white sharks typically surprise their prey by rushing from below and grasping the victim with a powerful, large bite. If the bite is not fatal, the prey is usually left to weaken or die through blood loss (exsanguination), at which time the white shark returns to consume its prey.

A great white shark swims underwater through the ocean at Guadalupe Island, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island, Mexico

A great white shark swims underwater through the ocean at Guadalupe Island, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island

A great white shark swims toward the photographer.  Perhaps the shark is considering him as possible prey?  The photographer, a "shark diver" is safely situated in a sturdy metal cage.  The best  location in the world to "shark dive" to view great white sharks is Mexico's Guadalupe Island, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island

Great white sharks occur naturally throughout California and northern Baja, although they are not common. In fact, they are a protected species in California. Scientific estimates suggest there are a few hundred adult white sharks roaming the state's coastal waters. Areas in central California where white shark feeding activities frequently occur include the Farallon Islands, Ano Nuevo Reserve (site of a large elephant seal population), the Northern Channel Islands and the Marin headlands. Evidence exists suggesting that gravid (pregnant) female white sharks travel to southern California to give birth -- it may be that these waters offer young white sharks better odds of survival. As the sharks grow their metabolism changes, biasing their dietary requirements toward calorie-rich fatty prey, causing them to travel to areas where they can feed upon marine mammals.

A great white shark swims underwater through the ocean at Guadalupe Island, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island

A great white shark swims just below the rippled ocean surface of Isla Guadalupe, far offshore of the Pacific Coast of Baja California, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island, Mexico

A great white shark swims through the clear waters of Isla Guadalupe, far offshore of the Pacific Coast of Baja California.  Guadalupe Island is host to a concentration of large great white sharks, which visit the island to feed on pinnipeds and tuna, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island

Great white sharks, like other lamnid sharks such as the mako, are capable of regional endothermy. In other words, they are capable of maintaining an elevated body temperature in temperate (i.e., cold) waters, particularly in stomach and muscle tissue. The implications of this physiology upon the white shark's predation potential are significant. Due to its high metabolism and its oxygen-rich, relatively warm blood, the great white shark is capable of sustaining highly energetic activity and pursuing fast-moving prey (including open ocean fishes such as tunas and billfish) in an aggressive manner in temperate waters, all of which enables it to pursue and efficiently digest fat- and calorie-rich prey unattainable by other sharks.

A great white shark swims through the clear waters of Isla Guadalupe, far offshore of the Pacific Coast of Baja California.  Guadalupe Island is host to a concentration of large great white sharks, which visit the island to feed on pinnipeds and tuna, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island

A great white shark underwater.  A large great white shark cruises the clear oceanic waters of Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Carcharodon carcharias

Great White Shark, Isla Guadalupe, Mexico, Guadalupe Island

A great white shark bearing a white plastic researcher's identification ID tag near its dorsal fin swims through the clear waters of Isla Guadalupe, far offshore of the Pacific Coast of Baja California.  Guadalupe Island is host to a concentration of large great white sharks, which visit the island to feed on pinnipeds and tuna, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island

In all these photos of great white sharks, note the delineation of dark dorsal and light ventral coloration -- a distinct edge separates the two areas, extending from just below the snout, above the mouth and past the pectoral fin, along the caudal stem to the caudal fin. This jagged edge has been observed to be essentially unique to each individual white shark and serves as a identification means for capture-recapture studies now occurring at Guadalupe Island. Recreational divers taking photographs of these sharks are contributing their images to an ongoing research effort to catalog individual white sharks along with the date of the animals' first sighting and any repeat sightings, allowing researchers to try to answer questions about whether or not white sharks return to certain locales repeatedly over time and, if so, why.

A great white shark is countershaded, with a dark gray dorsal color and light gray to white underside, making it more difficult for the shark's prey to see it as approaches from above or below in the water column.  The particular undulations of the countershading line along its side, where gray meets white, is unique to each shark and helps researchers to identify individual sharks in capture-recapture studies. Guadalupe Island is host to a relatively large population of great white sharks who, through a history of video and photographs showing their  countershading lines, are the subject of an ongoing study of shark behaviour, migration and population size, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

A great white shark is countershaded, with a dark gray dorsal color and light gray to white underside, making it more difficult for the shark's prey to see it as approaches from above or below in the water column.

A great white shark swims through the clear waters of Isla Guadalupe, far offshore of the Pacific Coast of Baja California.  Guadalupe Island is host to a concentration of large great white sharks, which visit the island to feed on pinnipeds and tuna, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island

A great white shark underwater.  A large great white shark cruises the clear oceanic waters of Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Carcharodon carcharias

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island

Among this collection are three photos in which the sharks are carrying

A great white shark swims just below the rippled ocean surface of Isla Guadalupe, far offshore of the Pacific Coast of Baja California, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Isla Guadalupe, Mexico, Guadalupe Island

Dorsal fin of a great white shark breaks the surface as the shark swims just below, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Isla Guadalupe, Mexico, Guadalupe Island

A great white shark swims away, showing its powerful caudal fin (tail), short anal fins on its underside, tall dorsal fin on top and sweeping winglike pectoral fins, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island

A great white shark swims through the clear waters of Isla Guadalupe, far offshore of the Pacific Coast of Baja California.  Guadalupe Island is host to a concentration of large great white sharks, which visit the island to feed on pinnipeds and tuna, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island

A great white shark underwater.  A large great white shark cruises the clear oceanic waters of Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Carcharodon carcharias

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island

A great white shark swims through the clear waters of Isla Guadalupe, far offshore of the Pacific Coast of Baja California.  Guadalupe Island is host to a concentration of large great white sharks, which visit the island to feed on pinnipeds and tuna, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island

A great white shark swims through the clear waters of Isla Guadalupe, far offshore of the Pacific Coast of Baja California.  Guadalupe Island is host to a concentration of large great white sharks, which visit the island to feed on pinnipeds and tuna, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island

Great white shark, injury behind right pectoral fin likely from another white shark during courtship or territorial dispute, Carcharodon carcharias, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island