Hi, On TV great white sharks always have a big, bloody gape. Is this Hollywood or are great whites' mouths normally stained with blood? If so why doesn't it wash away? Thank you.

Great whites usually ram their mouths into prey at tremendous speeds. The impact and the violent bites the great white delivers tears out the teeth and the flesh around them. So its not Hollywood SFX, great whites actually do have many wounds in their mouths.

Another phenomena that adds to this fearsome look is that Great White sharks thrust their jaws out from their natural position when they bite their prey. This adds to the bloody, gorey impression that the teeth and jaws have in so many photographs.

Another thing worth mentioning to do with photography of Great Whites is that the tip of the snout of a Great White is stuffed full of nerves and sensitive receptors. People who go cage diving etc have discovered that by touching the nose of the shark it stimulates the receptors so much that the shark rears its head up out of the water and opens its mouth really wide. This is when the shark is most commonly photographed- or these are the pictures that are most commonly published at least. What the pictures don't show is that the shark then sinks back down into the water without attempting any form of attack on its protagonist. It is not known whether this strange behaviour is a response to pain caused by touching them in this way or whether it is for some other unknown reason. But either way it is now illegal for tour guides to touch the Great Whites noses to provoke this reaction.

But of course- a) that doesn't stop everyone even though it should and b) hundreds of photographs are in existence that were taken before it was banned. If you look at any textbook on sharks or Great Whites in particular, when the jaws are in their normal relaxed position. they do not look nearly as bloody. It is all about photo timing and the portrayal of the sharks sporadic ability to look ferocious.