Carcharodon carcharias. Adriatic Sea. Mounted specimen, circa 1900.
In about 1900, when this specimen was mounted – an exceptional example of early taxidermy – there were very few illustrations of live sharks.
SCOURGE OF SAILORS?
The anatomy of this mounted specimen is not quite realistic, because the taxidermists had to rely on their imagination as there were no good models. This is why the pectoral fins and tail stock are a little too thick. An anatomically correct great white shark mounted a hundred years later can be seen in the large showcase in the center of the hall.
Allegedly the taxidermist found the shoe of a sailor of the Austro-Hungarian Navy in the shark’s stomach. However, this does not necessarily mean that the sailor was eaten by the shark. Great white sharks follow ships, often over long distances, and eat the waste thrown overboard.
Great white sharks are found almost in every ocean all over the world and in the Mediterranean. They can reach up to eight meters long, weigh three tons and swim at speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour. They eat primarily marine mammals. They can detect the blood and body fluids of a potential victim from a distance of 500 meters. Biomechanical computer simulations have shown that they have the greatest bite force of all animal species living today.
At least since the film “Jaws”, the largest predatory fish in the world has been regarded as a blood-thirsty beast and aggressive monster. Although great whites have attacked people on many occasions, most of these attacks were the result of mistaken identity – great white sharks clearly prefer seals as their prey. By contrast, fishing and trophy hunting have brought the species close to extinction in all its habitats.