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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.


  • Range from 7 to 11.5 feet in length, can weigh between 200 and 500 pounds
  • Females grow larger than males
  • Top side of shark ranges in color from pale to dark gray, fading to white on underside
  • Short, blunt snout
  • First dorsal fin is large and broadly triangular, while second is significantly smaller than the first
  • Pectoral fins are large and angular
  • Younger sharks have black tips on their fins


  • Often found in coastal waters of tropical and subtropical seas between 30 and 50 meters (or about 100 and 165 feet) deep
  • Can thrive in both fresh and saltwater, so can also be found in estuaries, bays, harbors, rivers and lakes


  • Occurs 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


  • Feeds on fish, sharks, rays, turtles, dolphins and sea birds


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

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Reaches sexual maturity between the ages of 8 and 10
  • Breeds 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
  • 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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