Bull Shark

Scientific Name: Carcharhinus leucas

Bull Shark

Description: Bull sharks are distinguished from other sharks by their high body width to length ratio, giving them a stout appearance. Like many fish, bull sharks exhibit countershading, dark coloration on top and light coloration on the underbelly. This helps them blend into their surroundings—if you look at one from above, it’s dark back blends into the murky water below. But if you look at them from below, their white belly blends into the sunlit waters above.

Size: Male bull sharks grow to about 7 feet in length, and females grow to 11 feet or more. Adults usually weigh between 200 and 500 pounds.

Diet: Bull sharks are not picky eaters! They eat fish, other sharks, marine mammals, birds, turtles, and pretty much anything else they can sink their teeth into.

Habitat: Unlike most sharks, bull sharks can survive in fresh water for long periods of time. They have even been found in the Mississippi and Amazon Rivers. They prefer shallow coastal water, which means that they come into contact with humans more often than we’d like.

Range: Bull sharks are found in coastal waters all over the world. In the U.S., they are found off the east coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Life History and Reproduction: Bull sharks rarely come together except to mate. Adults hunt by themselves, and most don’t migrate. Offspring are usually born in the spring or summer, except in warm climates when young may be born year round.

Conservation Status: Near Threatened. Because of their coastal distribution, bull sharks are more at risk from pollution and habitat degradation than other species. They are caught for their fins, liver oil, and skin, as well as unintentionally. Some are caught for display in aquaria.

Fun Fact:

Bull sharks are often considered to be the most dangerous sharks to humans, because of their aggressive tendencies and ability to migrate up rivers. However, shark attacks are extremely rare. In a typical year, fewer than 20 people die by shark attack, but over 20 million sharks die in relation to the fishing industry.

Sources:
National Geographic Society
National Geographic News – Shark Facts: Attack Stats, Record Swims, More http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/06/0613_050613_sharkfacts.html
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

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