the Legacy continues…………………….
Gregory R. Mann, Ph.D. {ret.}

Bull Shark

“Carcharhinus leucas”

Bull Sharks are also known as Zambezi Sharks, are a massive, fearsome sharks with a short, broad, blunt snouts, small eyes and triangular saw-edged upper teeth. Their characteristic barrel-shaped body lacks an inter-dorsal ridge. The first dorsal fin is broad and triangular and less than 3.2 times height of second dorsal fin. They are gray in color on their dorsal (upper) side and white on their ventral (under) side and have fins often seen with dark tips, particularly in juveniles. Females tend to be larger than males, reaching up to 3.5 meters maximum length and a maximum weight of 317 kilograms. They are reported to live up to 25 years. Bull Sharks are widespread coastal and freshwater sharks inhabiting shallow waters in bays, estuaries, rivers and lakes. They have a unique ability to penetrate far up rivers and hyper-saline bays, particularly when they’re young. They have often been found hundreds of kilometers from the sea. Adults can also be found near estuaries & freshwater inflows to the sea and are found typically between 3-30 meters in-depth.

Bull Sharks are the most common of about 6 species of river sharks which can travel between saltwater & freshwater or live in freshwater for prolonged periods. Solitary hunters, Bull Sharks are opportunistic feeders and prey upon bony fishes, other sharks, rays, shrimps, crabs, squids, snails, urchins, carrion, turtles and occasionally garbage. Bull Sharks are live bearer, with a yolk-sac placenta and give birth to 1-13 young per litter. Their size at birth is about 60-80 centimeters in length. In the western north Atlantic off Florida and the Gulf of Mexico and off South Africa, the young Bull Sharks are born in late spring or early summer. Off Nicaragua, females may have young throughout the year with a peak in spring & early summer. The estimated gestation period is 10-11 months. Male Bull Sharks reach sexual maturity between 1.6 and 2.3 meters in length, females at 1.8 to 2.3 meters, both between 15-20 years. Mating features distinct pairing with embrace; the male nips at the female’s back and grasps one of her pectoral fins in his mouth. Females often have courtship scars. Bull Sharks are considered one of the most dangerous species of tropical shark and have been implicated in a large number of attacks on humans.