In realistic contrast, research and observation have revealed well developed, non-human dietary preferences.
Their diets depend on a number of factors: the age/size of the shark, location, and availability of prey.
Many scientists assume that white sharks begin eating even before they are born.
With no placenta, the sharks that develop the fastest eat the unfertilized eggs of their would-be siblings.
This is known as oophagy (egg eating).
The surviving sharks are fully formed at birth and ready to hunt efficiently.
The diet of a juvenile shark differs from that of an adult, consisting of prey that is easier to catch and appropriate to their size.
In more shallow waters they feed on invertebrates, smaller sharks, rays, fish, and the occasional unlucky sea bird.
As they become adults, the great white's diet expands to include marine mammals.
They now have the size/strength to successfully attack dolphins, as well as seals and sea lions (known also as pinnipeds).
Although they still occasionally eat fish such as tuna or mackerel, these marine mammals become the preferred food source due to their high fat content.
Areas of the world with large pinniped populations (Guadalupe Island in Mexico, South Africa, Australia, and much of the California coastline) are known as highly concentrated great white shark locations as well.
These areas are the best for scientists and shark enthusiasts to observe the feeding behavior of great whites, from boat decks or submergible shark cages.
Great white sharks also eat carrion, often seen feeding on floating whale carcasses.
This is a very effective way to obtain a high volume of fat-rich meat, without having to expend much energy or risking the injuries that may be incurred while attacking a live seal.
A very large meal can sustain an adult shark for up to 1.
Young white sharks aren't able to eat as much food at one time, so they must eat more frequently.
Although it is true that humans have been attacked by great whites, these attacks are rare.
Often they result from curiosity or mistaken identity on the part of the shark, in areas where the recreational activities of people overlap with prey populations.
When the attacks have resulted in fatalities, the victims most often died as result of shock and massive blood loss from one initial bite, rather than having been consumed as an appealing food source.
This same curiosity by the sharks leads them to sometimes swallow odd items.
Some fishermen and scientists have reported finding interesting objects in the stomach of a great white from time to time, including a cuckoo clock, glass bottles, cans, lobster traps, boots, and a hat! Despite what Hollywood and folklore would like us to believe, human body parts are almost never amongst the stomach contents.