Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Carcharhinus leucas, Bull Shark

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heavy body, thick head
snout very short, round
eye small
D1 broad, triangular, origin ~over pectoral rear insertion
pectoral large, angular

Carcharhinus leucas (Müller & Henle, 1839)

Bull Shark

Body heavy; head thick; snout broadly rounded and very short (<< mouth width, 4.6-6.7% of TL); eye round, small; nasal flaps broadly triangular; lip folds very short; top teeth broadly triangular, straight, heavily serrated, lower teeth high, straight, narrow; origin of first dorsal fin usually over or just behind pectoral rear insertion; first dorsal fin broadly triangular and moderately high (height 7.0-11.3% of TL), its apex fairly pointed; 2nd dorsal fin relatively large (~1/3 height of 1st dorsal), its origin slightly in front of anal origin, its free rear tip short; no ridge on back between dorsal fins; pectoral large, wide,angular tail base without keel; tail fin strongly asymmetrical, with well developed lower lobe, undulating ridge along dorsal surface of top lobe, and a notch under tip of that lobe.

Grey, becoming white ventrally, often with faint pale grey horizontal band extending into the white of the upper abdomen; fins of small individuals with dusky tips or edges, adults plain.

May reach 340 cm.

Habitat: continental coasts, estuarine, muddy areas, lagoons, often travels far up rivers.

Depth: 0-185 m, usually nearshore.

All tropical and subtropical seas; the central eastern United States to Argentina.

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  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Bottom
  • Bottom + water column
  • Mid Water
  • Near Bottom
  • Near Surface
  • Surface
  • Rocks
  • Sand & gravel
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Water column
  • Beach
  • Corals
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
  • Mangrove
  • Mud
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
FishBase Habitat
  • Reef Associated
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Data
  • Sharks/rays
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
  • Sea snakes/mammals/turtles/birds
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Live birth
  • No pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Circumtropical ( Indian + Pacific + Atlantic Oceans)
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Also in Brazil
  • Continent
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Extends N + S of GC
  • Extends North of GC
  • Extends South of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • Island (s)
  • All species
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Equatorial (0-10N, Costa Rica / Venezuela)
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
  • Tropical (10-23N, Nicaragua / Cuba)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Near threatened
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 340
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 185