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Bull Shark

Carcharhinus leucas

Bull sharks are known for their ability to thrive in both fresh and saltwater. (albert kok/Flickr)
Bull sharks are known for their ability to thrive in both fresh and saltwater. (albert kok/Flickr)

Bull sharks are stout, gray sharks that can range from 7 to 11.5 feet in length and weigh between 200 and 500 pounds. The sharks are a summertime visitor to the Chesapeake Bay.

Appearance:

Bull sharks range from 7 to 11.5 feet in length, can weigh between 200 and 500 pounds. Females grow larger than males. The top side of the shark ranges in color from pale to dark gray, fading to white on underside. Bull sharks have short, blunt snouts. Their first dorsal fins are large and broadly triangular, while their second dorsal fins are significantly smaller than the first. Pectoral fins are large and angular. Younger sharks have black tips on their fins.

Habitat:

Bull sharks are often found in coastal waters of tropical and subtropical seas between 30 and 50 meters (or about 100 and 165 feet) deep. They can thrive in both fresh and saltwater, so can also be found in estuaries, bays, harbors, rivers and lakes.

Range:

The range of the bull shark runs along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, from Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico and from Southern California to the Gulf of California. In the Chesapeake Bay, bull sharks have been found as far north as the Patuxent River.

Feeding:

These sharks feed on fish, sharks, rays, turtles, dolphins and sea birds.

Predators:

Young can fall victim to tiger sharks, sandbar sharks and other bull sharks.

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

Bull sharks reach sexual maturity between the ages of 8 and 10. They breed in brackish waters in summer months. Females give birth to a litter of between one and 13 live young after a 10 to 11-month gestation period. Bull sharks can live to be at least 14 years old.

Other Facts:

  • Bull sharks are named for their blunt snout, aggressive nature and tendency to head-butt their prey before attacking.
  • Because bull sharks favor shallow coastal waters, they are among the most likely sharks to attack humans.
  • Bull sharks are the only shark that inhabits freshwater.

Sources and Additional Information:




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