This post may contain affiliate links to our partners such as Chewy, Amazon, etc. These purchases help us further AZ Animals' mission of educating the world's species.
bull shark pictures
View all our bull shark pictures in the gallery.
© Albert Kok / Creative Commons
See all bull shark pictures!
sharks that can live in freshwater
Bull sharks get their name from their short, blunt snouts and their aggressive behavior. They usually headbutt their prey before attacking. These sharks live in warm coastal waters less than 100 feet (30 meters) deep, but they can swim great distances in freshwater rivers if they choose, or live in freshwater lakes.
They are the third most dangerous shark to humans, after great whites and tiger sharks. Their overall size is large and stocky, with a heavy and rounded body.
Amazing Bull Shark Facts!
• They're in unexpected places: In 2010, they were seen swimming in flooded streets in Brisbane, Australia.
• They are robust: They have been seen leaping up waterfalls to inland lakes like salmon.
• Some are migratory: In the Amazon, bull sharks migrate seasonally up and down the Amazon River.
• Highest Bite Pressure: The highest shark bite pressure ever recorded for any shark of its size.
For our full list of facts, check out our "13 Incredible Bull Shark Facts" article detailing the most amazing facts about this unique shark species!
The scientific name of the bull shark is Carcharhinus leucas. The word "Carcharhinus" means pointy-nosed, because most sharks in this family, such as tiger sharks, have very pointed noses. Bull sharks are an exception because they have short, round, blunt snouts.
The word "leucas" is derived from the Greek word "leucos", meaning white, which describes the belly of a bull shark.
evolution and origin
Shark scales found in Colorado date back 455 million years to the Ordovician period, the earliest fossil evidence of a prehistoric shark.
Most scientists believe that sharks first appeared 400 million years ago. 200 million years earlier than dinosaurs! They are thought to be descended from a small leafy fish without eyes, fins or bones. Eventually, these fish evolved into the two major families of fish that exist today.
However, bull sharks have evolved unique adaptations that allow them to retain salt in their bodies even in freshwater, including the way their kidneys work and specific glands near their tails. Researchers continue to investigate these sharks to determine how and why they acquired this particular skill.
Different Types of Bull Sharks
Below is a list of the different types of bull sharks:
- Ganges Shark
- Fitzroy Creek Whaler
- Van Rooyen's Shark
- Lake Nicaragua Shark
- river shark
- freshwater whaling ship
- estuary whaling ship
- swan river whaling ship
- baby shark
- shovel nose shark
appearance and behavior
The body of the bull shark is large and heavy, and looks very round. Their noses are short and blunt. They have large dorsal fins on their backs, but they don't have a ridge that runs down their back like other sharks. They are gray above and white below. Young bull sharks often have dark tips on their fins. Bull shark teeth are large and triangular in shape with serrated edges, similar to the cutting edges of a saw.
Bull sharks are typically up to 11 feet (3.5 meters) long, about the size of two large refrigerators stacked on top of each other. They weigh between 500 pounds (230 kilograms), about half the weight of an average horse. However, they can get bigger. The largest bull shark ever recorded was 13 feet (4.0 meters) and the heaviest was 694 pounds (315 kilograms). Females are larger than males of the same age.
The top swimming speed of a bull shark is 25 miles per hour (40 kilometers per hour). By comparison, the fastest swimmer on record with 28 Olympic medals is Michael Phelps. Even with the special gear that allowed him to break the Olympic record, he could only swim at a speed of 8.8 mph (14.16 km/h), much slower than a shark.
Bull sharks are solitary hunters most of the time, although they sometimes team up with other bull sharks to make hunting easier. A group of sharks is often called a school, but may also be called a school. These sharks are known to be very aggressive and will attack people and other sharks without any provocation.
Bull sharks can be found anywhere in the world wherever warm, shallow coastal waters are available. They also live at least part of the time in many rivers around the world.
They are found in the Amazon River in South America, the Mississippi River in the United States, the Brisbane River in Australia, the Tigris River in the Middle East, and the Ganges River in India. They also live at least part of the time in various freshwater lakes, including Lake Nicaragua in Nicaragua and Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana.
Some bull sharks migrate annually, such as those in the Amazon River, which swim up and down rivers more than 2,300 miles (3,701 kilometers) seasonally. Because bull sharks give birth in freshwater rivers, it is common for female sharks to migrate after they are ready to give birth.
Bull sharks are carnivores, which means their diet consists of meat, including fish. They are opportunistic feeders, meaning they eat just about anything they find, and they're not fussy about their food. Their main diet consists of fish, dolphins, turtles, rays, birds and other sharks, including other bull sharks.
How much they eat depends on the food available. If food is available, they will eat as much as possible. If food is scarce, bull sharks can go without food for long periods of time. When this happens, their digestion slows down, allowing the food to last longer and avoid starvation. It's not known how much bull sharks need to eat.
A full analysis of bull shark diets can be found in our "What do bull sharks eat?" Page!
Predators and Threats
Adult bull sharks are usually not predated by anything in the ocean. This makes them so-called "apex predators," the animals at the top of the food chain. Juvenile bull sharks are sometimes eaten by other sharks, including adults. Bull sharks have been attacked and killed by crocodiles in rivers in Australia and South Africa.
The main threat to bull sharks is humans. They are hunted for their oil, skin and meat. Bull shark populations appear to be declining, with at least one study finding that bull sharks are not as large as they used to be, likely because the larger sharks are being hunted.
Bull sharks are not currently considered endangered, but their status is listed as Near Threatened (NT) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This means they can quickly become a threatened species if nothing is done to protect them.
Reproduction, Babies and Longevity
Little is known about the reproductive behavior of bull sharks. Scientists believe the male grabs the female by the tail and clings to her until she rolls over, at which point copulation can take place. Women often have scars and sores that are thought to be the result of such actions. This behavior is similar to the reproductive behavior of other sharks.
Bull sharks reach sexual maturity at about 8 to 10 years of age. They come together to mate, but then they go their separate ways instead of staying together for long. They breed from late summer to early fall and often congregate in rivers or estuaries between rivers and the ocean. Pregnancy lasts 10 to 11 months.
Babies, called pups, are born in fresh water, which provides them with protection from the many predators that live in the sea. Mothers give birth to anywhere from 1 to 13 live pups about 2.5 feet (80 cm) long.
Once born, these babies are on their own. The mother provided no care for them after they were born. Babies immediately start hunting on their own, eating small fish and crustaceans and anything they can catch and swallow.
The average lifespan of a bull shark in the wild is 16 years. They have the potential to live longer, especially in an aquarium. The oldest known bull shark was 32 years old.
There are no exact numbers for the bull shark population. They are often found throughout their habitat and appear to be abundant. Still, it's important to have a plan in place to protect them before they disappear. Currently, there are no plans to protect them.
See all 280 animals that start with B
about the author
My name is Rebecca and I have been a professional freelancer for nearly ten years. I write SEO content and graphic design. When I'm not working, I'm obsessed with cats and pet mice.
Bull Shark FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Are bull sharks carnivores, herbivores or omnivores?
Bull sharks cannot survive by eating plants because their bodies cannot digest plants. This means they are not herbivores or omnivores. Bull sharks are carnivores. They feed entirely on other animals. They will eat anything they can get their hands on, including fish, marine mammals, birds, and other sharks. They also eat dead or decomposing animals when they come across them, including dead whales and dead sharks.
When they are in rivers or lakes, bull sharks sometimes grab animals that come to the water to drink. They catch birds by swimming beneath seabirds resting on the surface or by fishing to feed themselves or their young.
Do bull sharks live in rivers?
Bull sharks are found in rivers all over the world. Bull sharks are found 1,000 miles up the Mississippi River and 2,000 miles up the Amazon River.
What is the difference between a bull shark and a bullhead shark?
Bullhead sharks and bull sharks don't have much in common except that they are both sharks. The bull shark is a large predator that can grow to 11 feet (3.5 m) or more, while the bullhead shark is much smaller, usually no larger than about 5 feet (1.5 m). Bull sharks have large, round, stocky bodies. The bullhead shark is not thick in appearance, but has a relatively slender body with prominent "horns" on its head.
Both species of sharks feed on fish and crustaceans, but the diet of the giant head shark is limited to small species, while the bull shark can eat large fish and other animals. Bull sharks are aggressive and very dangerous to humans, but bullhead sharks are not considered a threat. In fact, bullhead sharks have been described as cute, funny, clumsy and charming.
Part of the appeal of the bullhead shark is its appearance. It has a snout that looks like a pig's nose, with a small mouth under the nose. It's also attractive to people because bullhead sharks swim with a defined swinging motion, which is quite different from the bull shark's torpedo-like motion. The bullhead shark appears clumsy and clumsy, not at all like a bull shark.
Do bull sharks attack humans?
Bull sharks are one of the most dangerous shark species to humans. They rank in the top three for attacking humans along with great white sharks and tiger sharks. Over the past 150 years, bull sharks have made 104 attacks on humans. Of those attacks, 33 were fatal.
Because bull sharks live in equally attractive areas, they have more opportunities to attack. They hunt in murky waters where it is difficult to see their prey. Compared to other shark species, bull sharks have smaller eyes and prey primarily by smell. This increases the likelihood that they will mistakenly attack a human, thinking it is prey.
Bull sharks are easily provoked and respond to intrusions into their territory with a sudden attack. The fact that their territory overlaps with places humans like to swim and play in the water makes them more likely to attack.
While these sharks are indeed aggressive, experts believe that bull sharks do not actively seek out humans, but will attack them in many cases. Bull sharks not only attack humans in the ocean, they also attack people swimming in freshwater rivers and lakes away from any salt water, where swimmers feel safe from sharks.
To which kingdom do bull sharks belong?
Bull sharks belong to the animal kingdom.
What phylum do bull sharks belong to?
Bull sharks belong to the phylum Chordate.
Which category do bull sharks belong to?
Bull sharks belong to the class Chondrichthyes.
What family do bull sharks belong to?
Bull sharks belong to the true shark family.
What order do bull sharks belong to?
Bull sharks belong to the order Eucharidae.
What genus does the bull shark belong to?
Bull sharks belong to the genus Eucharicus.
What type of cover do bull sharks have?
Bull sharks are covered with scales.
What type of habitat do bull sharks live in?
Bull sharks live in shallow and tropical waters.
What is the main prey of bull sharks?
Bull sharks prey on fish, sharks and stingrays.
Who are the predators of bull sharks?
Predators of bull sharks include humans and tiger sharks.
What are the distinctive features of a bull shark?
Bull sharks have a flattened round snout and two dorsal fins.
How many babies does a bull shark have?
The average number of pups for bull sharks is 10.
Any fun facts about bull sharks?
Bull Sharks have an unpredictable and aggressive temperament!
What is the scientific name of the bull shark?
The scientific name of the bull shark is Carcharhinus Leucas.
What is the lifespan of a bull shark?
Bull sharks can live 16 to 25 years.
How Fast Are Bull Sharks?
Bull sharks can travel at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.
What are the main differences between bull sharks and reef sharks?
The main differences between bull shark and reef shark are appearance, size, habitat, predators, prey, reproduction and lifespan.
What is the Difference Between Bull Sharks and Tiger Sharks?
The main difference between the bull shark and the tiger shark is that the bull shark is smaller in size, tolerates fresh water and prefers shallow water. Tiger sharks are larger and cannot enter fresh water, usually in deeper water.
Bull Shark vs Alligator: Who Will Win The Fight?
We predict that if a bull shark encounters a crocodile in open water, the crocodile will win 6 times out of 10.
The reason this fight is so close is mostly due to the scale. American alligators have a significant size advantage over bull sharks, which makes it difficult for the sharks to attack adults. What's more, the shark has to specifically target the crocodile's underbelly to do any real damage. Any attack that misses the belly deals damage, but is not fatal.
What's the Difference Between Bull Sharks and Lemon Sharks?
The key differences between lemon sharks and bull sharks are their appearance, freshwater tolerance and different distributions.
What is the Difference Between Bull Sharks and Sandbar Sharks?
The main difference between bull sharks and sandbar sharks is their size and appearance.
Bull sharks measure between 7 feet and 11.5 feet in length and weigh between 200 and 500 pounds, while sandbar sharks average 6 feet in length and weigh between 110 and 150 pounds.
how did the bull shark say in
Thanks for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the 10hunting.com editorial team.
- David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2011) Animals, The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife
- Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) Encyclopedia of World Animals
- David Burney, Kingfisher (2011) The Animal Encyclopedia of Kingfishers
- Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) Atlas of Threatened Species
- David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Animal Encyclopedia
- Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Animal Encyclopedia