The great white shark is particularly common in cold or temperate waters between 11 and 24 °C, on the coast or offshore. It is particularly present off the southern coasts: of Australia, of South Africa, of California, of Mexico, of the north-eastern United States and in the Mexican island of Guadalupe, in New Zealand.
However, it can also be found in warmer waters, such as the Caribbean. There are areas that have become particularly interesting due to the high number of specimens present, such as Seal Island in South Africa, where there is a colony of tens of thousands of seals which attract numerous large specimens of white sharks and, consequently, numerous tourists who come to admire their depredation.
It is a pelagic shark, but it approaches the coasts particularly in areas where the continental shelf is very close to them or in areas particularly rich in potential preys. It does not tolerate fresh water but can frequent areas near estuaries and penetrate saline bays with little interest in low tide phenomena, as well as in areas where there are sewage outlets, given that organic residues attract the attention of the shark's senses.
The great white shark is currently threatened and is among the species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Specific laws have also been approved by the States of: Australia, South Africa, Namibia, Israel, Malta, Italy, California, Florida and New Zealand.
Australia has developed a comprehensive recovery plan for great white sharks in its waters.
Only 3500 great white sharks remain
The causes of the decrease in the specimens consist in the impoverishment of the fish heritage on which the white shark feeds, accidental fishing especially in tuna or swordfish traps, fishing for sporting purposes or aimed at the marketing of complete teeth, fins or jaws and the presence of nets drift.
As for the other sharks, it is the object of commercial fishing for food purposes for the preparation of shark fin soup even if it is not among the privileged species and its meat does not seem to be particularly valuable.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has included it in its red list classifying it as vulnerable, an estimate made when it was believed that the white shark was a fundamentally sedentary animal. Recently, however, a study by the University of Stanford has shown that the white shark migrates up to 18,000 km, for which it has recently been hypothesized that the same specimen has often been counted several times.
This means that the population of white sharks in the world has so far been greatly overestimated and a future update of the risk status is assumed, as the new calculation proposed by Stanford University assumes the presence of only 3,500 specimens worldwide.