5 Animals that Could Defeat a Great White Shark

Written by Colby Maxwell
Updated: September 19, 2023
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Great white sharks, often just referred to as great whites, are among the deadliest creatures in the ocean. They are widely recognized as the largest predatory sharks in the water, but they most definitely aren’t the largest creatures swimming around the deep. Still, they have quite a reputation, especially during the famous “shark week” marathon in August.

5 Animals That Could Defeat a Great White Shark
These four animals have the potential to bring down a great white shark.

In this article, we will find out if great whites are truly the kings of the ocean or if their crown is just borrowed. Let’s discover 5 animals that could defeat a great white shark!

Are great white sharks the most dangerous creatures in the ocean?

5 Animals that Could Defeat a Great White Shark

Great whites are among the most dangerous creatures in the ocean.

©Willyam Bradberry/Shutterstock.com

Great whites are easily among the most dangerous creatures in the ocean, but does that mean they are the most dangerous overall? Well, it depends on how you classify “dangerous.” Great whites are, without a doubt, the most deadly sharks for humans. The current estimates are as follows for the top three deadliest sharks:

SharkTotal attacksFatal attacks
Great white35457
Tiger13836
Bull12126

The numbers are surprisingly low for spanning over 200 years, but the winner is clear: great white sharks are the deadliest sharks in the ocean, at least as it relates to humans. Still, there is a creature who kills more people a year than great whites have killed in the past 200: the box jellyfish.

The box jellyfish killed between 50-100 people a year, often in less than 5 minutes. These jellyfish are responsible for more deaths to humans than any shark swimming in the deep. The reason is that great whites don’t try and kill humans. Attacks mostly happen when a great white mistakes a human for its favorite food; a seal or sea lion.

How large do great whites get?

As we’ve discovered, great whites aren’t the deadliest creatures in the sea, but they may be among the largest. On average, a female can measure between 15-21 feet and a male 11-13 feet. When it comes to weight, they often range between 4,200 and 5,000 lbs.

These massive fish are among the largest predators in the ocean, but there are a few creatures who can give them a run for their money. Let’s find out!

Animals that could defeat a great white shark

Although great whites are incredibly powerful and dangerous, they do have a few predators of their own. Even more, they also have some creatures that wouldn’t exactly prey on them but have the capability to kill them if the right situation occurred. We didn’t include small parasites or bacteria, however. Although sickness or disease could kill any creature on earth, that isn’t the type of battle we are talking about. Let’s get started!

1. Killer Whale

5 Animals that Could Defeat a Great White Shark

Orcas are the real apex predators of the ocean.

©Tory Kallman/Shutterstock.com

Killer whales may be the only animals on our list that actually prey on great white sharks. Otherwise known as orcas, these intelligent mammals belong to the dolphin family and are probably the top predators in the entire ocean. Hunting as a pack, orcas develop sophisticated tactics that minimize risk and increase efficiency.

Orcas regularly grow between 20-26 feet and weigh 6,600-8,000 lbs, dwarfing even the largest great whites. In addition to a size advantage, orcas also use their intelligence to their advantage. When hunting as a pack, they will distract sharks and then roll them over, placing them in a state of tonic immobility. Once immobilized, they surgically remove the liver of the great white and leave the shark to die. Why the liver? It has valuable nutrients that the orcas love. It’s like their dessert! Great whites have been washing up on shore in South Africa with their bodies intact but their livers removed.

2. Sperm whale

5 Animals that Could Defeat a Great White Shark

The sperm whale is the largest toothed predator in the world.

©Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com

The sperm whale is one of the largest creatures in the ocean and comes in as the largest toothed whale. In fact, it’s the largest toothed predator alive. Sperm whales grow between 52 and 68 feet long and can weigh up to 45 tons. The primary prey of a sperm whale is giant and colossal squid, but they also eat sharks and fish.

Although precise evidence of a sperm whale killing a great white hasn’t been documented, these whales are predators of the megamouth shark, a shark of similar size to the great white. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be all that difficult for a sperm whale to take on an average-sized great white without trouble. Since these whales are predatory, they would also have the knowledge of how to kill large sharks, unlike a filter feeder like a blue or humpback whale.

3. Colossal squid

5 Animals that Could Defeat a Great White Shark

A colossal squid could seriously harm a great white if they had the element of surprise.

©sciencepics/Shutterstock.com

Although you probably don’t think of squid as a legitimate threat to any large creature, you have never seen a giant squid fight. Giant squid can grow to 43 feet long, while colossal squid are a little shorter but heavier and thicker. The primary predator of these deep-sea-dwelling creatures is the sperm whale, with which they regularly fight. Most sperm whales have deep scarring across their heads resulting from serrations around the suction rings of the squid. Although a single squid isn’t likely able to take out a great white, it could seriously harm it if given the chance.

4. Giant Squid

Giant Squid on a fishing boat

Giant squid are thicker and heavier than colossal squid.

©mikeledray/Shutterstock.com

5. Humans

Humans are, without a doubt, the most dangerous animals on the planet. Great whites have killed a total of 57 people since the 1800s, but that number pales in comparison to how many sharks we have killed. The current estimate for human shark hunting is around 100 million, a staggering number. While not all of those 100 million sharks are great whites, the actual number is still much higher than the all-time high of 57 that great whites inflict on us.

Human

Humans kill more great whites annually than great whites have killed humans in the last 200 years.

©restyler/Shutterstock.com

Humans kill great whites on purpose, especially for shark fins used in traditional medicines. Additionally, humans accidentally kill these sharks through fishing bycatch, boat strikes, pollution, and more.

Question: Can Dolphins Kill a Great White Shark?

Most Vicious Animals

Dolphins may have a reputation for being friendly, cute, and curious creatures, but dolphins can also be extremely vicious.

©IgorZh/Shutterstock.com

Killer Whales are technically dolphins – so the answer would be yes – but what about regular dolphins? You may have heard that sharks are afraid of dolphins. Fear may not be the right word but they certainly don’t want to mess with these powerful creatures. Dolphins have a reputation for being friendly and cute – but they can be vicious. Dolphins have been known to attack sharks while they are sleeping. They position themselves several yards underneath and burst upwards – jabbing their snout into the shark’s vulnerable underbelly and causing serious injuries. Dolphin snouts are made of thick, strong bone that they use like battering rams. A solitary shark could be beaten to death by a pod of powerful, agile dolphins. At least it is possible in theory.

Summary of 5 Animals that Could Defeat a Great White Shark

AnimalStrength
1Killer WhaleThey hunt in packs with a planned strategy
2Sperm whaleThey are huge and regularly hunt megamouth sharks
3Colossal SquidThey go for humpback whales
4Giant SquidThey fight whales
5HumansHumans have tools and weapons at their disposal

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Fiona Ayerst/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Colby is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering outdoors, unique animal stories, and science news. Colby has been writing about science news and animals for five years and holds a bachelor's degree from SEU. A resident of NYC, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone about what birds he saw at his local birdfeeder.

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