20 Interesting Facts About Bull Sharks

  1. Bull sharks belong to the family of requiem sharksThey got their name due to their short, rounded snout and the tendency to hit the prey from behind like a bull.
  2. Bull sharks usually live near tropical seashores. They can also survive brackish and freshwaters and are visible in rivers and tributaries.
  3. The bull shark is one of few species of cartilaginous fish that can live in freshwater habitats. Only 5% of sharks and its relatives can live in freshwater. (Source)
  4. There is a common belief that bull sharks have the highest testosterone levels among animals, which makes them extremely aggressive. Few wild male bull sharks have high testosterone levels in their bodies, but it is not true for most wild male sharks, females, and captive bull sharks. (Source)
  5. Female bull sharks are larger than males. Females usually grow up to 3.3 m (11 ft.) while male bull sharks grow up to 2.1 m (7 ft.) in length. The adults weigh between 200 and 500 lbs (91 to 227 kg). Bull sharks are broader and heavier than most other shark species.
  6. The bull shark has the strongest bite force among all sharks. A key reason behind this bite force is the bull shark’s broad head and the resultant width of its jaws. (Source)
    A bull shark in water
    Blue sharks have strongest bite due to wide jaws

  7. Bull sharks are among the three most dangerous sharks for humans, along with great white and tiger sharks. However, bull sharks interact more with humans than other sharks due to their consistent presence in coastal areas, rivers, and tributaries. They rarely go beyond 30 m depth in seas. The murky waters of estuaries and bays are most risky places for bull shark attacks, because they cannot differentiate between humans and their potential prey (other fish and turtles).
  8. Most sharks cannot live in freshwater that can result in losing the necessary salt in the body and ultimately death. However, bull sharks can survive freshwater through osmoregulation by their kidneys and salt retention through special glands. Bull sharks mate in saltwater but reproduce in freshwater. The young also stay in freshwater to avoid bigger sharks in the seas. Adult bull sharks mostly live in saltwater.
  9. Bull shark does not remain in freshwater for a short period. They can live continuously in freshwater for a year or more.
  10. Bull sharks have different diets in saltwater and freshwater habitats. Their main food in saltwater includes bony fish, stingrays, sea turtles, dolphins, and small sharks. Bull sharks that live in freshwater eat water-dwelling animals, birds, dogs, rats, cows, horses, and hippos. They have poor vision and usually use their sense of smell to find their prey. (Source)
  11. The maximum speed of bull sharks is 25 mph. It is one of the fastest speeds among all shark species. 
  12. Adult bull sharks do not have natural predators. But larger sharks (great white and tiger) and crocodiles can attack and kill young bull sharks.
  13. Bull sharks only have a single cone in their retinas and can only see in black and white. The majority of bull shark victims are divers and surfers wearing black clothes.
  14. The Jersey shore shark attack in 1916 is the most famous incident of sharks killing humans. It is generally believed that great white sharks were behind these attacks. But there are doubts about the involvement of bull sharks in at least one of these incidents because they are the only dangerous sharks that inhabit fresh or brackish waters. (Source)
  15. A flood in Australia brought a few bull sharks to a lake on a golf course. These sharks even started breeding in this lake and pose no serious threat to humans. (Source)
  16. Unlike most sharks, bull sharks give birth to live young. These sharks are solitary and only come together to mate.
  17. Bull sharks are listed near threatened. The leading risk factors for these sharks are pollution and hunting for their meat and oils.
  18. The average lifespan for bull sharks in the wild is 16 years. A bull shark in captivity remained alive for 30 years.
  19. Bull sharks are highly active species of sharks. Due to this reason, they have a higher concentration of cholesterol and free fatty acids compared to other common free-ranging shark species. (Source)
  20. In 1877, scientists thought the shark present in Lake Nicaragua is a separate species, and named it the “Lake Nicaragua Shark.” Later in 1976, they realized that this is not a distinct shark species but a common bull shark.

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