Salmon Shark vs Great White Comparison

Sharks are one of the scariest creatures living on this planet. With their massive jaws and an interest in anything that comes their way as food, sharks have established their reputation as apex predators. They come in various shapes and sizes from the quite normal-sized salmon shark to the gigantic great white.

Depending on the species, sharks show some different characteristics. Some sharks are even quite friendly like leopards and whale sharks. But most of them share the common nature of being ferocious predators. Salmon sharks and great white sharks are from this category of sharks.

Salmon sharks are often mistaken for mini great whites. Although they are from the same family, they are not the same species. Both these sharks share some commonalities but they are two very different sharks. Here we will discuss everything you need to know on salmon shark vs great white. 

Salmon Shark vs Great White Comparison
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Comparison chart for Salmon shark and great white

To understand the similarities and most differences between these two types of sharks let’s have a look at this quick comparison chart.

Area of comparison Salmon shark The great white
Scientific name  Lamna ditropis Carcharodon carcharias
Naming  Because of their main food which is the pacific salmon. For its very visible white underside and massive size.
Other common names The porbeagle (former name), Marrajo salmon, Japanese Mackerel shark White pointer, White shark, White death
Physical identity Dark blue-gray to black body with a pale underside. The underside often contains dark blotches.  Dark gray body and white underside. But no blotches can be found on the underside.
Length  The maximum length can be over 10 feet. But the average length is 6.5-8 feet. The maximum length can be over 20 feet. But the average length for females is 15-16 feet and for males is 11-13 feet.
Weight  Maximum weight can get up to 1000 pounds.  Maximum weight can reach a staggering over 7000 pounds.
Catching records 365 pounds is the weight of the biggest salmon shark ever caught.  A 2663 pounds great white shark was the largest great white ever caught. 
Fishing  Quite heavily fished mistakenly and was used to be fished heavily as food which decreased after laws were introduced to stop it.  Because of their massive size and bad reputation, they are not caught by fishermen. Sometimes baby great whites can be fished mistakenly.
Human attack Very few reports have been reported about this shark attacking humans. A greater number of attacks have been reported by great white as most shark attack cases involve great white, bull, and tiger sharks. 
Aquarium  There are some aquariums that hold salmon sharks. One is the Oregon Coast Aquarium.  No aquarium holds this beast because of the amount of food it requires and the danger it can cause.

Salmon Shark vs Great White – the differences

Although in many cases salmon sharks are mistaken for great whites because of their similarities in color profiles, they are quite different in many ways. Let’s discuss them one by one.

Physical identity

Although both of these sharks have dark grey or black upper side and white underside, the salmon shark has blotches on its white area. The great white has a pure white underside. The salmon shark has a wide tail with a double keel which is very rare among sharks.

Only porbeagle shark has the same feature. And the other difference is the length of their snout. The salmon shark has a much smaller one.  

Salmon Shark
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This is an area where everything becomes clear. A fully grown salmon shark is nowhere near the length of a fully grown great white shark. While the salmon shark can grow up to 10 feet which is very impressive, the great white can grow twice as much which is just scary and amazing at the same time.

The average size of these two sharks is very different. The salmon shark usually is 6-8 feet long. And the great white males are found to be 11-13 feet long on average. But the females are 15-16 feet long on average.


If the difference in length was fascinating, the difference in weight is just case-closing. The great white can grow up to 7-10 times heavier than the salmon shark. While the heaviest salmon shark can be around 700-1000 pounds, the great white can grow over 7000 pounds in weight. What a beast!

Great White Shark
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Catching records

Well, these are two really dangerous fish species living on this planet earth. People don’t want to catch them; they want to avoid them. But still, human beings never fail to amaze themselves. Although most of the time smaller sharks get caught, sometimes the big ones also have a bad day. 

The biggest salmon shark weighed 365 pounds. Angler Thomas Farmer caught it off Valdez, Alaska in August 2005. And the largest great white ever caught recognized by IGFA weighs 2663 pounds. Alf Dean caught it in the Australian waters.


The salmon shark is actually a heavily fished shark species. While the great white is very much avoided by the fishers. The salmon shark was used to be caught in huge numbers to be served as food. So much so that the state of Alaska had to introduce a law to stop the fishing of this shark.

On the other hand, fishing great white sharks was never a thing. Sometimes by mistake, someone catches a great white baby and in very rare cases a large one. But nobody intentionally goes fishing a great white, unlike the salmon shark.

Related: Fly Fishing Vs. Regular Fishing

Human attack 

Salmon sharks are very capable of attacking humans. They are huge in size and quite aggressive. But the number of cases recorded of a salmon shark attacking humans is almost zero. Maybe because it doesn’t happen that much or it can be because most of them go undocumented.

On the other hand, the great white might have the worst reputation as a man-killer. The number of movies and documentaries that have been made and fiction have been written on this topic is astounding. Every year around 80 shark attacks are reported all over the world that are unprovoked. And in most cases, the great white is the main suspect.


Another area of difference. There are most like a few salmon sharks that are held captivated in some aquariums around the world. Like the Oregon coast aquarium. But no one has ever dared to do the same with great whites. Because of their food requirements and ferocity.

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Salmon Shark vs Great White Similarities 

Color profile

Both these sharks have almost the same color profile on their bodies. Both have dark grey or black upper body and white underside. For this reason, people in many cases mistakenly think salmon sharks to be great white.

The same family

They both belong to the Lamnidae family. This is the reason they look quite the same. And because of this, they also share a great feature. They are both warm-blooded sharks unlike most of the shark species. These sharks are partially endothermic that helps them keep their body temperature above the surroundings.

People also ask

Are salmon sharks related to great white?

Yes, they are closely related. They belong to the same family called Lamnidae. They both are partially endothermic. And both these sharks have an almost similar color profile with a dark grey upper side and white underside.

Is a salmon shark a mini–Great White?

No, it is a different species of shark. It looks almost similar to the great white with the same color distribution on its body. Although it is from the same family of sharks which is Lamnidae that the great white also belongs to it is a completely different species. A salmon shark is smaller in size but it’s not a mini-great white.

Time to wrap up

From our discussion on salmon shark vs great white, it is clear that these two sharks look quite similar despite being two completely different species. Salmon sharks are a much smaller, less scary species of shark that happened to have the same look as the monstrous great white.

But the salmon shark is actually from the same Lamnidae family as the great white. Both of them are apex predators. Although because of the smaller size, the salmon sharks actually get fished and eaten by us. No one touches the great white. And still, we are most likely to be attacked by the great white.

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