The great white shark is one of the most formidable predators of the ocean, known for its strength and agility. However, despite its fearsome reputation, these apex predators are actually known to avoid conflict with each other, wherever possible. Rather than engaging in aggressive behaviour towards each other, they tend to establish a social hierarchy based on size. Larger sharks are generally dominant over smaller ones and are more likely to claim the best feeding areas and mating opportunities.
One of the reasons that great white sharks avoid conflict with each other is that any injuries sustained during a fight can be potentially fatal. While sharks have an impressive ability to heal from wounds, even minor injuries can weaken their immune system and make them more vulnerable to disease. In addition, injuries sustained during a fight can make it harder for the shark to hunt and capture prey, which can ultimately lead to starvation and death.
Another reason that great white sharks avoid conflict is that it can be energetically costly. Sharks are highly efficient swimmers, but they still require a significant amount of energy to move through the water. Engaging in a physical altercation with another shark can be exhausting and may leave the shark vulnerable to attack from other predators.
It is important to note, however, that not all sharks adhere to this size-oriented hierarchy. In some cases, smaller sharks may attempt to challenge larger ones for resources or territory. These conflicts can be intense, but they are relatively rare and usually only occur when resources are scarce.
Overall, the great white shark's ability to avoid conflict with each other is a key factor in their survival. By establishing a social hierarchy based on size, they are able to coexist in the same territory without risking injury or wasting valuable energy. This allows them to focus on hunting, mating, and other important activities that are essential to their continued survival.
- Hammerschlag, N., Gallagher, A. J., & Lazarre, D. M. (2011). A review of shark agonistic displays: comparison of display features and implications for shark-human interactions. Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology, 44(2), 53-68.
- Klimley, A. P., & Ainley, D. G. (1996). Great white sharks: the biology of Carcharodon carcharias. Academic Press.